Providing high-speed public Wi-Fi was a key initiative under the Government of India’s Digital India program by RailTel (a CPSE of Indian Railways) in partnership with Google. Earlier, the project was announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai. Now, Google has announced that using the nation-wide optic fiber network backbone created by Railtel, RailWire Wi-Fi is now available at 400 railway stations in India.
Since January 2016, Google has been working on the design and deployment of the wireless infrastructure on top of fiber optical network in the station created by RailTel. RailWire is the brand name for the free public Wi-Fi service and till now, millions of commuters have taken the advantage of this free service. In the first year, 100 of the busiest railway stations across India were brought online-enabling 15000 people to experience the internet for the first time every day. And in the last one year and a half, 300 new stations were added across the length and breadth of the country. And now, RailWire Wi-Fi, the free service, touched the 400th Station, Dibrugarh, a town in the state of Assam, known for the Natural resources and tea.
On the successful completion of the project, K. Suri, Director, Partnership, India, Next Billion Users, Google India, said, “Bringing high speed connectivity to millions of Indians across train station, has been an incredible journey and underscores the importance of investing in public Wi-Fi as a crucial step in getting high quality internet to everyone in India. With over 8 million monthly unique users connecting to the network, this is a lighthouse project for India and every growing economy that is looking to bring the benefit of connectivity to everyone in their country. We’re thankful to India Railways for their vision and the support from RailTel to deploy a world class public Wi-Fi service- to bring every Indian a fast broadband service so that they can experience the best of the web.” While K. Manohar Raja, Executive Director/ Enterprise Business, RailTel, added “Railway stations are a microcosm that is India and creating a digital inclusion platform is in line with the vision of our Honorable Prime Minister and Digital India initiatives of the Ministry of Railways. As internet is becoming an increasingly video focused network, majority of Indians access internet on mobile networks with varying experiences and our endeavor has been to bridge the experience divide by providing one of the fastest public wi-fi networks in the world. The statistics of the usage, as well as the heart-warming stories we hear, has really validated our beliefs on empowering the people by providing high-speed internet access”
On this occasion, Google has shared some interesting facts and figures related to RailWire Wi-Fi.
- With thirty minutes of free access to the internet, any user on an average consumes 350MB of data per session.
- Majority of the users are in the 19-34 age group.
- Over 35% of users on the network are first time Wi-Fi users.
- 50% of users access the internet multiple times in a day-highlights regular usage by daily commuters.
Recently, an interesting fact came to limelight when Srinath, a porter from Idukki in Kerala, used free Wi-Fi at Cochin railway station and prepared for the test for the Kerala Public Service Commission and cleared it. While, Helen, an auto rickshaw driver, used the Wi-Fi to help her son with his education and is learning new things herself every day.
Now, as a part of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative, the RailTel project will expand the public Wi-Fi outside train stations, into Indian cities, and around the world. This project is known as Google Station, and now it’s live in Pune and RailTel is also looking forward to expanding it to homes using the collaborative entrepreneurship model of RailWire.