Published on : Tuesday, February 18, 2020
In accordance with Google’s ‘Station’ program, the tech giant was providing free WiFi to nearly 415 railway stations in India. Google in association with RailTel and Indian Railways launched the program back in 2015 and successfully provided free internet services to more than 400 railway stations in India.
Under the ‘Station’ project, Google provided technological support and Radio Access Network or (RAN) while RailTel, a PSU unit of Ministry of Railways provided ISP or internet bandwidth connection as well as infrastructure to 415 stations of A1, A and C category. Despite Google’s withdrawal from the five-year contract, RailTel has assured the continuation of providing WiFi connections in these stations. RailTel has also been providing free WiFi to nearly 5190 stations of B, C and D category.
The recent decision was made in the light of the growing 4G internet service connectivity and the facility of using unlimited internet at a much lower price range. According to Google, India enjoys one of the cheapest mobile data rates per GB in the world. After the TRAI regulations in 2019, mobile date service rates have been reduced by 95% which led Google to notice the lack of necessity of free public internet services in railway stations.
However, Google has promised to work towards supporting its partners to transition the now existing internet service providing locations throughout the year so that they continue to carry out the free WiFi operations in the stations. RailTel will also continue to provide free WiFi across 5,600 railway stations in the country alongside the 415 railway stations that came under Google’s partnership. They further plan to establish partnership plans with other new companies.
Besides India, Google has also decided to pull the plug from providing free railway station WiFi in countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, Mexico and Nigeria, all of which fall under the station project.