Google will shut down its Google Station — through which it installed free WiFi at over 400 Indian railway stations — this year, Caesar Sengupta, VP – Payments and Next Billion users, announced earlier today. The company cited low mobile data costs in India, amongst the lowest in the world, and its own inability to scale Station and make it itself-sustainable as the reasons for shutting Station down. Google will work with its partners over the year to make a smooth transition. TechCrunch first reported this development. We have reached out to RailTel to understand if they will continue to offer free public WiFi at railway stations without Google as a partner.
Google Station was launched in September 2015 in partnership with Indian Railways and Railtel to provide high speed WiFi coverage in 400 stations across India. The goal was to offer it for free in the beginning, and eventually make it self-sustainable. Even when the programme was announced, Google did not specify how it would make Google Station self-sustainable. In June 2018, it had covered 400 stations. After that, the company says, it implemented Station in other locations around the country in collaborations with telecoms, ISPs and local authorities.