Google in partnership with the Railways’ telecom wing, RailTel will launch the first public WiFi service at the Mumbai Central railway station as the joint partnership kicks of its project of providing free WiFi across 400 stations in the country on Friday.
Google had earlier said that the WiFi service will be free and consequently there would be a reduction of speed over continuous usage so as to give equal opportunities to all people accessing the WiFi at the station.
“The first hour will be free and then we will limit the speeds so as to give fair access to other passengers,” Gulzar Azad, head of Access Programs in India, had said, indicating that users would not be charged for internet usage.
Later, railway ministry sources revealed that only the first hour of internet surfing will be free and after that every user will be charged somewhere between Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 per hour.
A similar model of WiFi usage is in effect across major airports in the country, where users are allowed 30 minutes to an hour of free internet, followed by a pay wall.
In December, India-born Pichai had accompanied Google’s nine international vice-presidents with the firm explaining in detail the deployment of the scheme, its speeds, coverage area and how it would work for all passengers. “We are looking at finishing 100 stations by the end of this year with incremental progress every quarter,” Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, had said during his keynote address.
Indian Railways in the last week of September had announced it had laid out more than 45,000 km of optic fiber network across the country and would be partnering with Google to set up a high-speed Wi-Fi network at 400 stations.
“The free Wi-Fi will work on the back of fiber already deployed by RailTel and will provide station wide access instead of closing it down to a particular point,” Marian Croak, vice president, access strategy and emerging markets, had told HT.
She had also said that the “highly reliable and hi-speed” internet will be open and will allow users to do anything which includes watching HD videos seamlessly.
Google had also clarified the speed of the internet will be higher than average internet speeds accessible in the country. The average internet speed in the country was recently revised from 512 Kbps to 2 Mbps after the new government came into power.
As details of the proposed plan still remain hazy, some clarity on recharging, payment gateways and validity might come to fore on Friday as Google makes the announcement some time around 2 pm in the afternoon.