Google to launch free and fast wi-fi at Mumbai Central station

Will go pan India with 400 stations

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | December 17, 2015



Mumbai Central railway station is going live next month, courtesy Google. The tech giant’s India-born CEO Sunder Pichai has  promised to provide free and high-speed wi-fi access to railway commuters at over 400 stations in India. Google’s wi-fi will only work at the platforms and is not meant for the trains.

Speaking in New Delhi on Wednesday Pichai said, ‘we are partnering with RailTel and are on track to get 100 stations online by the end of 2016. Mumbai Central will be live by January." Preparations are already on in multiple stations to make the project a reality. Pichai had announced the free w-fi  project  during prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the company’s headquarters’ in Mountain View, California in September this year.

Rail Tel India Corporation limited is a PSU and owns a pan-India optic fibre network of over 45,000 kms, exclusively along railway tracks. Google will utilise the same for its own wi-fi. In this case Railtel will be the ISP while Google will provide the wireless area networks (WAN) and will set-up the points of access at platforms. Google will at the end of 2016 l evaluate the project to see how it will expand the free wi-fi scheme further.

Marian Croak, vice president of Google's access strategy and emerging markets , said, “we will build wifi on top of the fibre infrastructure, it will be large and fast. Ten million people pass through these 100 stations alone. They will have exceptional service over time."

Google promises to maintain speed and efficiency across a board of devices.

Gulzar Azad, who heads the program in India, in a post presentation briefing said, "thanks to fibre backhaul at every station the speeds will be faster than current Indian broadband speeds."  Without putting a number to the speed that will be available he said  it would be possible to access high definition videos on this connection. Passengers will be able to access high speed internet for an hour before the speed is downgraded.

As of now Google aims to see the project up and running and hopes it will be self sustaining, though it can later turn to sponsors for monetisation. "One (monetisation) model that we are exploring is to have a sponsor so that the end user never has to pay for the internet," said Croak. The service will confirm to net neutrality according to Google. “It is not our intention to provide a walled garden," said Croak.

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