Google has begun rolling out its free high speed public Wi-Fi in tandem with RailTel, which will eventually cover 100 of the busiest railway stations in India. The first such station to be covered by the Wi-Fi service is Mumbai Central. Such a service is bound to gain immense popularity as free Wi-Fi is extremely rare in India, and the government has not been providing any such similar service anywhere else in the country.
Google has said in its blog post about the service that trains are the lifeblood in India, and railway stations sit at the heart of most cities across the country. And more than 23 million people get on to a train every day. Google says that many of these people end up spending a lot of time at railway stations. That’s the target audience that Google is looking at. Google says in its post: “Starting today, those passing through Mumbai Central station will have access to something that we hope will make their wait a bit more enjoyable and productive — free, high-speed Wi-Fi.”
The next stations that will come under Google’s ambitious programme in India as part of its current tie-up with RailTel will be Allahabad, Jaipur, Patna and Ranchi.
If you are now in Mumbai Central, you will see the ‘RailWire Wi-Fi’ network in your Wi-Fi settings. A few simple steps will allow you to connect up to three devices to the high-speed network. All you need is an Indian mobile number to access the service.
As of now, the Wi-Fi network will be provided free of cost. Google’s eventual aim is to make the service self-sustainable to allow expansion to more places and with partners other than RailTel.
The service has its genesis in the trip that PM Narendra Modi had made to the Googleplex in September last year. Google CEO Sundar Pichai had said, “We’d like to help get a billion Indians online — so they can access the entire Web, and all of its information and opportunity. And not just with any old connection — with fast broadband so they can experience the best of the Web. That’s why on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to our US headquarters, and in line with his Digital India initiative, we announced a new project to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across India.”
This is just the beginning. Google plans to cover a total of 400 stations, across India, in partnership with Indian Railways and RailTel.
RailTel owns a pan-India optic fibre set-up exclusively on Indian Railways’ wide railway network across India. Reports indicate that it has laid out 45,000 km of its fibre optic network across India, which Google will leverage for rolling out its high speed Wi-Fi service to 400 railway stations.
As Pichai had said in September last year, “Just like I did years ago, thousands of young Indians walk through Chennai Central every day, eager to learn, to explore and to seek opportunity. It’s my hope that this Wi-Fi project will make all these things a little easier.
Waiting at the stations will now not be an ordeal. College students and job hunters would make Mumbai Central the hangout destination.