Who doesn’t want hassle-free and uninterrupted internet connection? In a first of its kind project, Indian Railways is providing free high-speed WiFi on its railway stations – a welcome move given the bid to expand reach of digital India. Recently, in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain stated that WiFi services have been provided at 715 railway stations across the zonal railway networks of the country. Indian Railways proposes to provide free WiFi services at 5,734 railway stations. The railway stations WiFi project is a key enabler for the Modi government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative.
Indian Railways’ RailTel has tied up with Google for providing free WiFi at 438 A1 and A category railway stations – the first such tie-up for the national transporter. The biggest difference between the A1, A category stations and rural stations is the scale of network, in relation to the size of the stations and footfall. Rural stations are smaller and see lesser footfall, as compared to A1, A category stations. RailTel has also entered into an MoU with Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for providing WiFi services at 200 rural railway stations.
In an earlier interaction with Financial Express Online, Ashutosh Vasant, Director (Project Operation and Maintenance) of RailTel stated that the company has roped in Google as its technology partner for radio access. In this partnership, RailTel provides high-speed, end to end network connectivity on fiber, the backbone network, the data center services, while Google provides the radio access network along with technology support on radio network design.
RailTel has officially been delegated with the task of completing PM Narendra Modi’s ambitious project of equipping all Indian Railways stations with free WiFi. WiFi services to passengers are being provided under the ‘RailWire’ brand. RailWire WiFi service is available to any user who has a working mobile connection with KYC considerations. Vasant told Financial Express Online that the response to the service has been phenomenal as it has received around 8 million unique users per month, out of which 25,000 per day were first time users, making it the world’s largest Public WiFi network.
Further, WiFi Internet Facility is planned for the following railway stations (state-wise):
Hence, with a cumulative of all of these, WiFi services have been planned to provide for a total of 5734 railway stations.