NEW DELHI: Google’s proposed free Wi-Fi service for railway stations in India is now available at 10 stations across the country. Google launched the service earlier in the year with Mumbai central station but now Google has added Pune, Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Ranchi, Raipur, Vijayawada, Kacheguda (Hyderabad), Ernakulum Jn (Kochi) and Vishakhapatnam.
Google claims that it can reach 1.5 million people with coverage at 10 stations allowing people to access high-speed Internet for free. It also claims that the service is fast enough to enable people to stream high definition video for free on their smartphones.
“The network is now live in ten key stations across the country and we are scaling up our efforts to roll out the network quickly to cover some of smaller stations where connectivity is much more limited. As internet adoption grows in India, easy and affordable access to high-speed networks is the real need of the hour,” said Gulzar Azad, head of Access Project, Google India.
Google is working with Railtel to expanding the network to 100 stations by the end of this year. This would mean that Google will cover 10 million people and it will be the largest public Wi-Fi network in India.
“With 100 stations live, this project will be the largest publicly accessible high speed Wi-Fi network in the country, but our real hope is that this project will set new benchmarks in delivering a reliable and consistent network connectivity in the country,” said Azad.
Eventually, Google plans on rolling out the network across 400 stations which will make it one of the largest public Wi-Fi offerings in the world. The project was announced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai late last year.
“As outlined by the Hon’ble minister Shri Suresh Prabhu – modernising and improving the amenities available to passengers of Indian Railways is big part of our focus. And we are very proud to say that Indian Railways has taken the lead to offer the best Wi-Fi network experience available to passengers today in the country. And while the service will be free for a reasonable amount of time, our long-term goal is to make this project self-sustainable to allow for expansion to more stations and places, with RailTel and other partners, in the future,” said R K Bahuguna, chairman and managing director, Railtel.