Google has officially announced a new project to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across India. The initiative was announced on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. headquarters and in line with the Digital India campaign.
Under this project, busiest 100 stations are said to be online by the end of 2016, providing internet access to about 10 million rail passengers a day. Google is partnering with Indian Railways, which operates one of the world’s largest railway networks, and RailTel, which provides Internet services via a fiber network along many of these railway lines. Google’s Access & Energy team plans to bring the first stations online in the coming months.
“This will rank it as the largest public Wi-Fi project in India, and among the largest in the world, by number of potential users. It will also be fast—many times faster than what most people in India have access to today, allowing travelers to stream a high definition video while they’re waiting, research their destination, or download some videos, a book or a new game for the journey ahead.”
said Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google in a company blog post.
He said that the service will be free at first while in the long run, Google expects it to be self-sustainable that will allow for expansion to more stations and other places, with RailTel and more partners, in the future. Pichai further noted more than 300 million people in Indian are online, with 100 million of them using the Internet for the first time in the last year. At the same time, he mentioned that nearly 1 billion people in India are not online and this initiative is a way to get them online.