Google and RailTel’s high speed free WiFi service on railway stations has crossed 300,000 users per week, Google said in a blog post. Additionally, the company has expanded the WiFi service to cover Allahabad, Jaipur, Patna and Ujjain Junction stations.
Interestingly, Google mentions that it will look to expand the WiFi to 17 suburban train stations in Mumbai, including Bandra Terminus, Borivali, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Churchgate, Dadar, Kalyan, Kurla, Panvel, Thane and Vashi, by the end of this year. Overall, the company expects to cover 90 stations by the end of this year, and 400 in total.
Note that earlier this month Google and RailTel extended their high speed free WiFi service to nine cities. This would include the railway stations of Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Ernakulam Junction, Kacheguda, Pune, Raipur, Ranchi, Vijaywada and Vishakhapatnam. The initiative had initially launched in January starting with Mumbai Central station, and would be available for all users with an active mobile connection.
In September 2015, Google announced that it would tie-up with the Indian Railways and RailTel to provide high speed WiFi coverage in 400 stations. RailTel owns a pan-India optic fibre network exclusively on railway track. It has laid out over 45,000 kms of optic fibre network across the country, which Google looks to utilize for its WiFi. At the time, Google did not say how it will actually make the platform self-sustainable.
The public Wifi space has been really picking up steam in India, although questions over security and privacy remain. The rising interest in public WiFi is helped by the fact that mobile data isn’t reliable while smartphone adoption is at an all time high.
Other public WiFi initiatives in India:
– Earlier this month, state owned telco BSNL said it extended its WiFi internet facility across 1,227 location by installing 2,505 Wi-Fi hotspots. BSNL said it was working on setting up 40,000 WiFi hotspots across the country to make up for the lack of its own 4G services. In November, Facebook and BSNL entered into a partnership to create 100 WiFi hotspots in rural areas in India.
– Last month, Delhi metro users were all set to get free high-speed WiFi service across all stations including 222 trains, 187 stations through a partnership between Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRCL) and network providers including Techno Sat Comm and PING Network.
– The same month, Firefly Networks said it would provide WiFi internet access at Delhi’s Karkardooma Court Complex.
– In the same month, mobile payments and commerce company Paytm had started offering free WiFi service as a pilot project.
– In February, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) said that it would launch WiFi at 144 major bus stations across the state.
– In January, Ortel Communications introduced free public WiFi hotspots for its broadband subscribers, as a value added service in Bhubaneswar.
– Internet service provider Joister also launched Joispot WiFi, a free public WiFi initiative in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune, with speeds of upto 2Mbps.
– The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and telecom operator Tata Docomo signed a partnership to offer free WiFi services, to be provided around PJ Tower in Mumbai to the public.