400 Indian railway stations will get Wi-Fi services within next year, announced the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, after visiting the Google headquarters in California.
Google will be collaborating with Indian Railways and RailTel, the government owned tele-communication provider to provide services to the millions of passengers using the railway service. This project will give Google great acceleration in the country. It is expected that first few stations will become online in the next few months.
Sundar Pichai, the Google CEO in a blog post, said that even by making 100 stations online, the project will provide Wi-Fi access to more than 10 million people passing through the stations every day. He added that initially the service will be free and eventually they need to make the project self-sustainable, so that the service will be available to more stations and people.
At present Indian Railways are used by 21 million people daily and in the next five years, it is expected to grow to 30 million passengers. The track length will also see an increase of 20%, reaching to 138,000 kilometers. Currently, India has more than 300 million people online.
The commercial terms of the agreement between Google and Indian Railways are not yet disclosed and it is not known whether Google will be able to serve advertisements to the internet users at these stations.
According to Pichai, the passengers will use the Wi-Fi service to stream high definition videos or research about their destination or for downloading videos, games and books while waiting to start the journey.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the Google campus, Mountain View, California on Sunday to get some support from the companies in the Silicon Valley for his project called “Digital India”. This project aims to make more Indians to connect through the internet.
During a dinner in San Jose with the Silicon Valley executives, Modi said that the Indian government wants the 1.25 billion Indian citizens to be connected digitally. The broadband usage in India has already gone up by 63% last year and it needs to be further accelerated. He added that the insistent development of the national optical fiber network launched by the country will make broadband reach to 600,000 villages.
Though internet censoring in India is not as stringent as in China, the country had disagreements with internet companies and users about removal of pornographic content, access to data by law enforcement and for religiously offensive contents.
PM Modi also visited the Facebook headquarters on Sunday.