CST is the 50th railway station where free wifi service has been rolled out across India
Vishwas Dass | September 23, 2016 | New Delhi
Indian Railways’ plan of providing free wi-fi internet service at 100 stations by the end of this year got a boost on Friday after RailTel, in collaboration with Google, unveiled the service at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station in Mumbai.
CST is the 50th railway station where the ambitious service has been rolled out by the railways.
While addressing the gathering at the 17th foundation day of RailTel in New Delhi through tele-conferencing, railway minister Suresh Prabhu said, “We can overcome urban rural division by promoting connectivity that RailTel offers”.
Rajan Anandan, vice president of South Asia & India, Google, said “Google takes pride in partnering with the Indian Railways to roll out free wi-fi services at railway stations where lakhs of people converge daily. There are 350 million internet users in India which needs to be increased through such efforts that are aimed at enabling people to get real time services through their gadgets.”
He added that Google, in association with RailTel, has geared up to provide free wi-fi service at 400 railway stations within the next two years to enable access high of speed internet.
Rajan laid emphasis on providing internet services to rural people who are still deprived of such services. “We have to address affordability and desirability issues effectively. If we want to ensure people in rural parts of India access internet, prices of smart phones need to be brought down,” he said.
Underscoring the importance of imparting training to rural youth, Google’s Rajan Anandan said we need to get entrepreneurs from the rural areas who understand the problems of villagers and help Google to launch new initiatives. “Google will train 200 million android developers in India,” he said.
RailTel CMD RK Bahuguna said that efforts are being made to expand the high speed internet facility.
Meanwhile, minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha laid emphasis on bridging the rural disconnect and providing digital services to people in the rural belts. “We have yet to ensure 100 per cent internet connectivity in the villages while progress of NOFN is also slow. We have to gear up ourselves to expedite the progress of NOFN project,” Sinha said.
The minister added that at a time when India’s economy is stable and improving, other countries’ economy is stumbling. He firmly said that time has come that India’s economic development rate should happen in double digit.
Google’s head of access programmes (India), Gulzar Azad apprised the gathering that in terms of internet speed, India stands at 160th position globally which must be a reason of worry for the authorities concerned and efforts should be made to ensure faster internet access. “India should be in the list of top 10 countries having high speed connectivity,” he said.
RailTel’s network planning & marketing director A Sheshagiri Rao said only 27 percent gram panchayats (GPs) have been connected on National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) while over 2.5 lakh GPs are yet to be connected that implies a lot of work is yet to be done.
“Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is mulling to provide free Wi Fi service at all the stations and in trains on all the six lines where it operates by next year. Currently, four metro stations have Wi Fi service in the national capital,” DMRC’s general manager (Signal & telecom) DK Sinha said.
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