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WiFi at Railway Stations? We’ve heard of that before – Rail Budget 2014

India’s Railways Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda today announced plans to provide WiFi at Railway stations, as a part of the Railway Budget 2014 announcement: WiFi will be provided in “A1 and A category stations”. The Indian Railways runs 12617 trains every day, ferrying over 23 million passengers. It has over 7172 railway stations. The thing is, we’ve heard of WiFi hotspots at Railway stations being planned before, but have never really seen it being implemented.

Back in 2006, I had interviewed Shailesh Tiwari, then the AGM (Business Development & Public Relations) of Railtel Corporation of India, at the India Telecom conference. It was around that time that Power Grid corporation was also talking about providing broadband over power lines. Railtel has an optical fibre back-end (at that time, around a 30,000 km network), and told us of plans to create Wifi hotspots at more than 500 stations, and extend services to areas near the stations as well. Forget 500, in the 8 years since that interview, are there even 10 stations with WiFi? I haven’t seen any, but then again, I rarely travel by train any more.

Here’s a list of WiFi announcements from Indian governments (state/central) and departments. Do let us know if any of this was ever done, and in case of the recent initiatives, whether they actually work.

– Nov 2006 and June 2014: Wifi in Connought Place planned. And WiFi in Connought Place planned
– Jan 2009: WiFi pilot on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express
– June 2009: WiFi mesh network across Chennai, by Zylog. Also in the Chennai Bangalore Shatabdi Express
– March 2012: WiFi on the Howrah Rajdhani Express
– July 2013: WiFi at New Delhi Railway Station
– Jan 2014: WiFi on MG Road in Bangalore (has never worked for Vikas SN)
– Jan 2014: Vodafone has WiFi at the Belvedere Towers metro station in Gurgaon
– Feb 2014: WiFi in a 20 km zone in Patna
– Jul 2014: Mumbai Metro has WiFi, with You Broadband

If you know of any other WiFi announcements that never really led to deployment, let us know.

P.s: Pardon the naivety and lack of scepticism in that Railtel interview. First few months reporting on this sector.

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