New Delhi : Google has revealed that close to 1.5 million people are using free WiFi at 19 railway stations in India where the project has gone live. Google and RailTel are targeting close to 100 stations under the free WiFi scheme for 2016. On the occasion of the inaugural World Wi-Fi Day by the Wireless Broadband Alliance that aims to provide a platform to help bridge the digital divide, we want to take this moment to celebrate the milestone we have hit with our project with Railtel to provide high speed Wi-Fi at railway stations across India,” Google said in a blogpost.
The company rolled out the network at four of India’s largest stations — Sealdah, Lucknow Junction, Lucknow City and Gorakhpur Junction — last week. With this project, Google wants to create abundant broadband access to millions of Indians who are either currently not online or are using it in limited capacity. The company said while they are only at approximately 20% of the roll-out schedule for this year, the response has been phenomenal. “We saw 100,000 users connect to the network within a week of launch at Mumbai Central and as we started rolling out the network at more stations, we saw exponential jump in the consumption of the network,” the post read.
A big chunk of the country continues to access the Internet on a narrow band network, limiting experience of Internet to basic activities, it added. "Easy and affordable access to full fidelity broadband network continues to be a challenge in India and is throttling the economic impact that Internet can have," it noted.
"Easy and affordable access to full fidelity broadband network continues to be a challenge in India and is throttling the economic impact that Internet can have," it noted. Google saw 1 lakh users connect to the network within a week of launch at Mumbai Central and as it started rolling out the network at more stations, it saw "an exponential jump in the consumption of the network".
It also noted much higher consumption of data in tier II cities where access to high-speed broadband remains a challenge. "Per capita consumption of data in tier II cities far exceeds consumption we are seeing in tier I cities," it said.
It further said even though users are in transit, the average consumption per user on the network is 15 times the data they would consume on a 3G pack in a day, which today is the most dominant means of access to the Internet in India. While the primary usage is focused on infotainment, Google is seeing a lot of users in tier II cities using the network to look up and apply for jobs online.