Over at the Official Android Blog, Google just announced that it is dropping invites to its Project Fi MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). When we took an updated look at the service after six months of operation (back in December), we noted that Google wanted to accelerate growth of the service. This appears to be the first step.
The lone Project Fi plan otherwise remains unchanged. You pay $20 per month, per line, for unlimited talk and text. Data is $10 per GB, with unused data appearing as a credit on your next month's bill. The MVNO uses Sprint and T-Mobile's networks, switching to whichever offers the best signal, and makes liberal use of open Wi-Fi networks.
Of course, you'll still need a Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, or Nexus 6P in order to use the service. To make that a little easier to swallow, Google's running a special promotion for the next month. If you sign up and activate Project Fi, you get up to $150 off the Nexus 5X, wich means the 16GB version will set you back only $199, or the 32GB version $249. That's a steal. If you don't activate the phone on Project Fi, you'll have to fork over the $150 out of your Google account, so don't think about trying to sign up just for the cheap phone without ever using the service.
Why this matters: Google's network is an interesting experiment that has enjoyed limited reach, primarily because of its restrictive invite-only system and Nexus phone requirement. With Google lifting the invites and shaving a lot of money off the Nexus 5X purchase price, they'll probably boost their subscriber count and get spur Nexus sales at the same time. Still, Project Fi will never be much more than a curiosity if it doesn't start to support other popular phones.