The initiative started in January 2016 with Mumbai Central railway station being the first station to have free RailWire WiFi facility. In around 2 years 3 months, 1,000 Indian Railways stations have been provided with fast and free WiFi facility.
Indian Railways big achievement! In a significant milestone, Indian Railways now has 1,000 railway stations that provide free high-speed WiFi to passengers! RailTel, a Mini Ratna CPSU under the Ministry of Railways, has completed the work of turning as many as 1,000 railways stations into free WiFi zones. The initiative started in January 2016 with Mumbai Central railway station being the first station to have free RailWire WiFi facility. In around 2 years 3 months, 1,000 Indian Railways stations have been provided with fast and free WiFi facility. The Reay Road railway station of Mumbai’s suburban network, which falls under the Central Railway zone, has become the 1000th railway station with RailWire WiFi facility. RailTel also aims to expand the WiFi network in more railway stations in the near future.
The fast and free WiFi facility is being provided under RailWire, which is the retail Broadband initiative of RailTel. The hi-speed WiFi facility is available to any user/passenger who has a smartphone with a working mobile network for KYC considerations. Railway stations of A, A1 and C categories have been equipped with free WiFi facility by RailTel along with Google as the technology partner for Radio Access, while using the RailTel backbone for broadband connectivity.
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To provide WiFi at remaining 4791 B, C, D, E category railway stations across India, recently RailTel has roped in Tata Trust. These railway stations will have free WiFi facility by RailTel by this year-end. The move is being implemented in all stations except halt stations. According to RailTel, as lack of infrastructure becomes a hindrance for rural/low population density areas to access high-speed internet, free WiFi will be made available at stations of these areas, turning them into a hub for digital growth for rural India. Moreover, work to provide WiFi at 200 railway stations with the support of Universal Service Obligatory Fund of GoI as well as in 386 railway stations with own/other funding has already been completed by RailTel.
According to Puneet Chawla, CMD, RailTel, this is a very challenging project for RailTel from various aspects. While executing the project, RailTel faced many challenges including large size of railway stations, various hindrances for the WiFi signal such as thick stone walls blocking coverage, power outages, huge footfalls, every station design being unique the fitments needing customization, redevelopment and ongoing construction activities at railway stations. However, these issues did not stop RailTel from achieving this unprecedented height, Chawla added.
In order to use the WiFi facility, the user has to switch on the WiFi mode in his/her smartphone and select the RailWire WiFi network. following this, the RailWire homepage network will automatically appear on the smartphone. Now, the user has to enter his/her mobile number on this homepage. An OTP will be sent in the form of SMS, which has to be entered in RailWire’s home page. After entering the OTP, the user will be able to access the WiFi and browse internet.