The project was launched as a key initiative under government’s Digital India programme and was kicked off from Mumbai Central railway station on January 2016. Google designed and deployed the wireless infrastructure on top of the fibre optic network in the station created by RailTel, according to a press release.
It was offered as a free utility service under the brand name ‘RailWire’. The service saw instant adoption by users as the project gained scale and momentum. Within the first year of the project, 100 railway stations across India were Wi-fi enabled. In the last year and a half, around 300 new stations were added, with Dibrugarh becoming the 400th station to go live on Thursday in Assam.
Users can access free Wi-fi for thirty minutes in stations and it could be seen that a user on an average consumes 350 MB of data per session, the release stated. Majority of the users are in the 19-34 age group and over 35 per cent of users on the network are first time Wi-Fi users.
As part of the Next Billion Users initiative, Google is now building on the success of RailTel project to expand the public Wi-fi outside train stations, into Indian cities. Google Station, the public Wi-fi platform, is now also live in Pune.
RailTel is exploring sustainable ways to provide Wi-Fi across all stations on Indian Railways and also spread high speed connectivity to homes by the collaborative entrepreneurship model of RailWire.