Kick-starting the ambitious free Wi-Fi project at 400 ‘A1’ and ‘A’ Indian Railways stations across the country, Railtel Corporation (public sector undertaking of the ministry of railways), in collaboration with internet search giantGoogle, is set to roll out internet services at Mumbai Central on January 22 this year.
“As many as 100 stations will have Wi-Fi by December 2016, Mumbai Central to go live by January. This is in partnership with RailTel,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said at an event last month.
Pichai had first announced the companies’ plan to provide free Wi-FI at Indian railway stations during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to California in September last year.
Officials at the ministry of railways state that 100 ‘A1’ stations will be enabled with Wi-Fi by December 2016.
“Railtel in collaboration with Google will roll out Wi-Fi services at 18 stations by April while the remaining 82 will be commissioned by December 2016,” a senior official at the ministry said. “The work at 300 ‘A’ category stations shall commence in 2017,” he added.
RailTel, the telecom wing of the Indian Railways, had signed an agreement with the subsidiary of Google India ‘Mahataa Information India Private Limited’, to provide Wi-Fi services at 400 stations across the country.
RailTel which has laid out more than 45,000 km of optic fiber network across the country will be the internet service provider for the project while Google will set up a wireless area network across the 400 stations.
Sources in the ministry say that Wi-Fi services can be accessed free of charge for the first 30 minutes, after which commuters will have to pay between Rs 25 and Rs 30 per hour.
Commuters will have access to this service only on platforms and not on the train.
Google has made no direct investments for this project, the proposed investment will come in the form of providing technology, design and equipment required for providing the Wi-Fi services.