Google Rolls Out Free Wi-Fi at 400 Indian Railway Stations
In India, around 400 railway stations will now have access to high–speed public Wi-Fi under the partnership of Google and RailTel, which provides broadband and VPN services. The project was first announced in 2015 by the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It kicked off from Mumbai Central railway station on January 2016 as a key initiative under government’s Digital India programme and Dibrugarh in Assam has become the 400th station to go live recently.
According to a press release, Google designed and deployed the wireless infrastructure on top of the fiber optic network in the station created by RailTel. Within the first year of the project’s launch, 100 of the busiest railway stations across India were brought online, enabling 15,000 people to experience the internet for the first time every day. In the last year and a half, around 300 new stations were added.
The service offers 30 minutes of free access to the internet and saw users consuming about 350 MB of data per session on an average. While a majority of the users are in the 19-34 age group and over 35% of users on the network are first time Wi-Fi users. As part of the Next Billion Users initiative, Google is now building on the success of RailTel project to expand the public Wi-Fi outside train stations, into Indian cities.
RailTel, the telecom arm of Indian Railways is exploring sustainable ways to provide Wi-Fi across all stations on Indian Railways and also spread high–speed connectivity to homes by the collaborative entrepreneurship model of RailWire. The project has succeeded in its mission of bringing connectivity to millions of unconnected Indians, leveraging on the nationwide optic fiber network backbone created by RailTel.
Google India Director Partnership Next Billion Users K Suri said, “with over 8 million monthly unique users connecting to the network, this is a lighthouse project for India and every growing economy that is looking to bring the benefit of connectivity to everyone in their country.”
Google also plans to provide Wi-Fi on board moving trains across India using cutting-edge technology. Apart from India, Google Station has been launched in Indonesia and Mexico and is expected to extend to other countries. Going forward, Google will continue to extend its public Wi-Fi services within Indian cities as well.