Google will collaborate with Indian Railways to provide WiFi services at 500 railway stations. This was announced during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to the search giant’s headquarters in USA.
RailTel Corporation of India, a public sector unit under the Ministry of Railways would partner with Google for this purpose. It would be Google’s biggest WiFi project. The project would commence from Mumbai Central railway station, where it would be ready by mid-October. According to a statement by RailTel, the WiFi – which would be free for first 30 minutes over a 24 hour period – will be a high-speed network capable of delivering HD video streaming services and passengers will be able to download a movie in 4 minutes before they embark on long journeys.
WiFi at railway stations is not new in India. Free WiFi was launched at New Delhi railway station in July, 2013. RailTel had introduced WiFi service at Bangalore railway station in October, 2014. The service was free for the first 30 minutes, after which users had to pay for it. At that time, it was said that similar facility will be introduced at other railway stations also. However, nothing of the sort happened.
A few days back, telecom operator Vodafone had entered into collaboration with Indian Railways to set up a WiFi zone at Ahmedabad railway station. The facility would be available free for the first 20 minutes or 100 MB data at platform 1 of the station.
The announcement of Google’s association with the project has led to questions being raised on whether Indian Railways or telecom companies could have taken this initiative.