Train passengers carrying laptops will soon be able to access the internet at prominent stations as the Railways has plans to introduce the Wi-Fi facility at 500 stations, starting with cybercity Bangalore.
The Wi-Fi facility, which is currently available at the international airports in the country, including Delhi's IGI Airport, enables the laptop users to access the net without plugging into a regular connection or having to use a data card.
The RailTel Corporation of India, a PSU which looks after the telecommunication needs of the Indian Railways, proposes to deploy Wi-Fi "hotspots" at stations that will deliver internet services to passengers who have Wi-Fi or WiMax-enabled laptops.
According to RailTel Managing Director KK Bajpeyee, the service can also be extended to the adjoining areas of railway stations to cater to retail customers. Initially, the service is proposed to be introduced only within a radius of two to four kilometers. Later, it will be extended to cover a large number of residential colonies and commercial establishments near the stations, he stated.
Bangalore will become the first Wi-Fi railway station in the country in about three months, after which the facility will be gradually set up in 49 more cities. On completion of the first phase, the project will be implemented in phases in more than 500 locations across the country. "This will help Indian Railways in enhancing the passengers' experience at stations," Bajpeyee said.
RailTel is already operating a chain of cybercafes, branded as 'Cyber Express', at 21 stations. Among these are New Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Howrah, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mysore, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Pune. Such cafes will be set up in 61 more stations.
These "next generation" cybercafes have facilities for web browsing at broadband speed, e-mailing, internet telephony, scanning, printing, faxing and video conferencing, all under one roof available round the clock.