The future plans of the technology giant, Google Inc. include providing high-speed public free Wi-Fi in about 400 Indian Railway stations that are used by hundreds of people on a daily basis. This will give the company an excellent opportunity to make some headway in one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world. The search engine giant is collaborating with RailTel, a provider of telecommunications infrastructure owned by the government, and the Indian Railways for initially extending the service to about 100 of the busiest railway stations in the country by 2016. The first few stations will be able to get free Wi-Fi in the upcoming months.
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google Inc., stated in a blog post that even with just 100 stations, they will be able to provide free Wi-Fi to about millions of people who use the stations for traveling every day. Initially, they will be providing this service for free, but the goal of the firm is to eventually make the project self-sustainable in order to extend the service to other stations and even other places as well. The currency capacity of the Indian Railway is 21 million, but it is planned to add more capacity and carry about 30 million people within the next five years.
It is also the aim of the Railways to increase their track length to 138,000 kilometers, which is about 20%. Currently, the number of people online in India is about 300 million. The commercial terms of the agreement made between Indian Railways and Google weren’t disclosed, which also includes whether Google will be able to display ads to people on the railway stations. No comment was made by Google regarding the matter. Google’s CEO expects railway passengers to use the Wi-Fi service for downloading videos, streaming high-definition videos, researching destinations or downloading a new game or book for the trip ahead.
On Sunday, Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister visited Google’s headquarters for encouraging and requesting the Silicon Valley companies to contribute for the Digital India Project, which is aimed at promoting internet use in India and eradicating poverty. The Prime Minister spoke to chief executives of tech companies and said that his aim was to enable the 1.25 billion in India to become digitally connected. He said that the broadband usage in India had increased by 63% in the previous year and they wished to increase it even further.
He also informed the executives that aggressive expansion had begun in India in regard to the national optical fiber network, which will allow broadband to become available across 600,000 villages. The internet is not systematically censored in India as compared to neighboring China, but there have been some conflict with the internet companies and local users in the past over providing law enforcement with data and removing pornographic content, which is deemed religiously offensive. Facebook’s headquarters were also visited by the prime minster. Both Google and Facebook are launching new programs in India that are focused on development.