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Google begins testing Voice over LTE for Project Fi customers

Why it matters to you

Voice over LTE improves calls and makes fiddling with maps and directions in the middle of a conversation much less frustrating.

A post on Google’s Project Fi Help Forum confirmed what some users already suspected: The company has begun testing Voice over LTE for a limited group of subscribers. The feature has been available to major carriers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, for some time now and is finally making its way to Google’s network.

Users can determine whether Voice over LTE has been activated for their account by looking at the wireless signal indicator during a call. If it continues to show LTE, rather than falling back to HSPA, you’re one of the lucky few. Voice over LTE sports a number of benefits, including improved call clarity, faster web browsing mid-call, and quicker call initiation. What is more, the data used during calls will not count against Project Fi users’ allocation.

At the moment, the only downside to Google’s implementation of the feature is that it is only being tested for Project Fi users accessing the T-Mobile network — not Sprint or U.S. Cellular. Project Fi is characterized as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). These types of networks use the pre-existing infrastructure of other partners to deliver service. However, Sprint and U.S. Cellular do not yet support Voice over LTE and so right now it’s a T-Mobile-only affair.

Voice over LTE is just the latest new feature to Google’s network, which has seen a series of useful updates over the last several months. In October, the company introduced group plans and followed that up in November by rolling out real-time app data usage monitoring.

Unlike most carriers, Project Fi refunds customers at the end of every month for the data they do not use. That, coupled with additional features like automatic switching to Wi-Fi hotspots and international high-speed data in many countries for no extra charge, has made Project Fi an increasingly popular choice. Unfortunately, however, it’s still only available to Google Pixel, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X owners.

In January, Google announced it would be extending its “Refer a Friend” program indefinitely, meaning Project Fi customers can still earn $20 credit by referring someone to the service.