Google has officially announced its plans to collaborate with RailTel and Indian Railways to provide high-speed Wi-Fi at over 400 stations across India. The initiative will be rolled out to 100 locations by the end of 2016, with the rest to follow soon after.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed the news via a blog post. He claims that over 10 million citizens will benefit from the initial rollout to the busiest stations in India. According to him, the undertaking is the largest public Wi-Fi program in the country, and is among the biggest in the world in terms of potential subscribers.
The service will be free in the beginning, with Google hoping it can eventually become self-sustainable in order to expand to more places in the future. The scheme was announced by Pichai during Narendra Modi’s visit to the tech giant’s headquarters in San Francisco. It’s supposed to be in line with the Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative.
Pichai hopes the high-speed broadband Wi-Fi service will reach the nearly 1 billion people in India who aren’t online. As per his post, over 100 million users started accessing the internet for the first time in the past year, which means there are more data consumers in the nation than in any country across the globe, except for China.
Rumors about the initiative, codenamed Project Nilgiri, surfaced earlier in September. The reports stated that the Wi-Fi provided could have a maximum download rate of 7mbps and upload speed of 5mbps. The speed will drop down after the initial 30 minutes of usage. Users will have to verify their mobile number by submitting an OTP sent to them via an SMS.