In continuation with Google’s project of providing high-speed public Wi-Fi service at 100 Railway stations across India by 2016 end, five new stations were added just recently, taking the country’s total of Wifi-enabled railway stations to 15 so far.
About the Project
- This project was announced in September 2015 by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, when Prime Minister Modi had visited the company in Mountain View, California.
- It was announced that the railway commuters in India can access free and high-speed Wi-Fi at over 400 stations in India by 2019.
- In the initial phase, the project aims to cover 100 stations by the end of 2016.
- This project was launched in association with Railtel Corporation.
- It is said that with the launch of this service, 10 million Indians will be able access free Internet in the railway stations.
- This is supposed to be the largest public WiFi project in the country and among the largest in the world if the number of potential users is counted.
Railtel is a Public sector undertaking (PSU) owned by the Indian Railways which provides Internet services as RailWire and telecom infrastructure. RailTel has owned an optic fibre network on railway tracks pan India. It has laid out over 45,000 km of optic fibre network all over India. The network is being utilised by Google for its Wi-Fi connectivity. The network is built for a larger coverage and high usage of capacity. As per the project, Google provides the wireless area network (WAN) and set up points of access at railway platforms and RailTel acts as the ISP.
Wi-Fi-enabled Stations in India So Far
First station: The first railway station to get free Wi-Fi is Mumbai Central. It became operational in January 2016.
Significant usage of the Wi-Fi service in the station has been reported, and every week more than 2.5 lakh people are using the service. Considering this success rate, Google has plans of extending the project to cover some more Mumbai stations such as Bandra Terminus, Churchgate, Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Panvel, Vashi, Kurla, Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, Borivali and a few more.
Nine stations were added in April 2016
The second phase saw the launch of free Wi-fi services in nine railway stations in April 2016. These are:
- Bhopal Station
- Ernakulum Junction (Kochi)
- The cheguda (Hyderabad)
The five stations that got Wi-Fi connectivity in May 2016, include
How to Access Wi-Fi in railway stations?
- Visit Wi-fi settings on your smart phone.
- Select the RailWire Network.
- Open your mobile browser.
- Log on to railwire.co.in
- Enter your phone number on the Wi-Fi login screen, and then press “Receive SMS”.
- You receive a 4-digit one-time password (OTP) code in your phone through SMS
- Enter the code at the Wi-Fi login screen
- Click Done.
- You will notice a checkmark on your screen, which means that you are connected to the free Wi-Fi.
Will the service always be free?
The project has not specified yet whether a fee will be charged or not for using Wi-Fi. In other public places like airports, hotels, where there is Wi-Fi, Internet access is free for a limited time period and then a fee is charged as per the usage. So far, Google has announced the service for free. Google hopes that this will be self-sustainable. Right now, the emphasis is on getting the project up and running. It will start exploring different revenue models later on.
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