Tag Archives: RailTel

Google for India: Making our products work better for everyone

The growth of the Internet has been explosive in India. Every second, three more Indians come online for the first time — that’s over 10,000 people every hour. But this latest wave of Internet users still has significant barriers to getting the most out of the Internet: low-powered phones, 2G connections, and very little data.

So today at our second Google for India event, we announced several new Google products, platforms and access programs to deepen India’s participation in the Internet.

YouTube Go: A YouTube app built from the ground up for India

Today we are starting extensive user tests of YouTube Go, a brand new mobile app completely reimagined for the next generation of YouTube users. Our product team spent the last year learning from users in India about their access and affordability challenges. So we designed the app to load and play YouTube videos smoothly across various connectivity situations, and to provide users transparency and control over their data consumption. The app also has a cool new feature that lets users share videos easily with friends and family nearby, without using any data.

YouTube Go will be India-only at first. If you want to an early chance to try it out, sign up at youtubego.com/signup to find out when the app is available.

Google Station: More Wi-Fi in more places

Last September, we announced our partnership with Indian Railways and RailTel to provide Wi-Fi at 400 railway stations in India. Right now, more than 50 stations provide high-quality Internet to 3.5 million people each month. In our research together with IPSOS, we estimate that 15,000 Indians come online each day through these stations.

With these kinds of results, why not expand beyond railway stations, and even beyond India? By getting great Wi-Fi into the world’s malls, bus stops, city centers, and cafes all around the world, millions more people will be able to learn, play, chat, work, and find the information they need.

So today we’re announcing Google Station, which gives partners an easy set of tools to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. Google Station will provide software and guidance on hardware to turn fiber connections into fast, reliable and safe Wi-Fi zones. Users will get a fast Wi-Fi experience with a simple and unified login, while making it much easier for venues to manage their networks.

We’re just getting started and are looking for a few strategic, forward-thinking partners to work with on this effort. So if you are interested in learning more about how to work with us to bring high quality WiFi to your venues, please reach out on station.google.com.

Allo: The Assistant and Smart Replies in Hindi

One of the main features of our new messaging app Allo is a preview edition of the Google Assistant, a new way to have a conversation with Google. In the app, you can ask the Assistant questions and let it help you get things done directly right in your chats. This is currently available in English, but later in the year, we will also be rolling out the Assistant in Hindi. And as part of that, the “Smart Replies” feature — where Allo suggests responses to messages so you can respond quickly in English and Hinglish — will also be available in Hindi.

Chrome for mobile and Google Play: Better connectivity for our platforms

Our open, global platforms — like Android, Google Play, and Chrome — let people easily find the content and services they want and give creators and developers a way to share with the entire world. But how useful are these platforms if they stumble every time they meet a low-bandwidth connection? We are hoping to fix this with two updates to Chrome for mobile and Google Play.

For certain countries like India where connectivity is a challenge, Chrome now offers an expanded Data Saver mode, which millions are already using to reduce the amount of data the browser uses on Android mobile devices, computers, and Chromebooks. This new update will support MP4 videos, saving up to 67% of video data. Also, Chrome on Android will automatically optimize pages to their essentials when 2G-like networks are detected. These simplified pages load up to 2X faster, saving more than 90% of user data. On top of that, Chrome for Android adds a new Download feature that lets users save web pages, videos, music, and pictures on their phone. All downloaded contents can be easily accessed in Chrome's new Downloads tab, even when the users are offline. And if they go offline before downloading is complete, the process will automatically resume the next time they’re connected.

Downloads on Chrome for Android

On the Google Play side, Indian users on 2G connections will experience two new experimental features to improve the experience. The Google Play app will now pre-load the most popular parts of the store on Wi-Fi so that browsing is much faster even on a weak signal. And when choosing to install an app, Play will offer the option to “Wait for Wi-Fi” and install the app when the phone connects to Wi-Fi and save data.

Google News: Lite Mode

Starting this week, the Android app Google News and Weather adds a new feature called “Lite mode” for people on low-bandwidth connections that keeps the headlines and trims the rest of the components down to their essentials so that the app loads more quickly. This mode uses less than one-third the data. Slower networks with trigger Lite mode automatically.


Added up, that’s a lot of data saved, speeds accelerated and new connections made. But I want to share a lesson underlying those announcements that extends beyond India.

While most of today’s launches focus on Google users in India, we have learned that building for mobile-first countries ends up helping the world’s first-billion users as well. One example: India inspired us to make Maps Offline — a way to download a map to your phone so you can navigate around town even without a data connection. But now people around the world, especially in the U.S. and Europe, are using offline maps to get seamless navigation in mountainous areas or patches in urban centers where connectivity cuts out. Building for India and other countries where the next billion Internet users are coming online not only improves their experiences, it gives us better ideas that work for everyone.

Posted by Caesar Sengupta, Vice-President, Next Billion Users Team

300,000 logging in each week from 15 railway stations across India

Guwahati station, the gateway to India’s easternmost states, has just became the 15th train station in India to offer our free, high-speed Wi-Fi service. The other stations that have just come online include Allahabad, Jaipur, Patna and Ujjain Junction, following quickly on the heels of the nine stations announced last month.

As the network has expanded, the number of people logging in has as well – we’re thrilled that more than 300,000 people are now using this high-speed Wi-Fi each week.
But we’re not stopping there. Based on the incredible demand we’ve seen at Mumbai Central, the first station that came online in January, we’re now also working with RailTel and Indian Railways to extend the project to cover 17 of the busiest suburban stations across Mumbai, stations that more than 1.5 million people pass through every day, by the end of this year.

For any Mumbaikars out there, these stations will include Bandra Terminus, Borivali, Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, Churchgate, Dadar, Kalyan, Kurla, Panvel, Thane and Vashi.
Here’s an updated map of the stations that now have Wi-Fi, and the stations we plan to reach by the end of the year:
IndiaWifi_zoomed our May11MR2.png
Details about how to use the service are here, and keep watching this space as we continue to expand to more and more stations across the country.

Posted by Gulzar Azad, Head of Access Programs, Google India

High-speed public Wi-Fi rolls into nine more train stations across India

If you’re one of the 1.5 million people who travel through Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Ernakulam Jn, Kacheguda, Pune, Raipur, Ranchi, Vijayawada and Vishakhapatnam train stations everyday, you’re in luck! While you wait for your train, you can now look forward to free high-speed Wi-Fi to hopefully make that wait a bit more enjoyable and productive.

These nine stations join the first we brought online in January, Mumbai Central, where more than 100,000 people are already logging into the high-speed Wi-Fi every week. We hope that people passing through these first 10 stations will enjoy being able to easily stream (or offline) an HD video, research their destination, or download a book or a new game for their journey ahead.

Here are a few shots around some of the stations that are now online:
It’s still early days, but we’re really happy about this progress towards making high-speed Wi-Fi available to more than 10 million Indians every day. In the months ahead, we’ll continue to work in close partnership with Indian Railways and RailTel, to reach 90 more stations this year, and eventually 400 spanning the whole of India.

Here you can see where we’re at on the journey. The stations that now have Wi-Fi are in bold, the additional markers show the rest of the stations we plan to reach this year:
Watch this space for updates as we expand this service, hopefully reaching a station near you soon.

Posted by Gulzar Azad, Head of Access Project, Google India

Waiting for your train in Mumbai? How about streaming some HD videos while you wait

[Cross posted from the Official Google APAC Blog]

Trains are the lifeblood of India, and train stations sit at the heart of most cities across the country. More than 23 million people, equal to the total population of Australia, get on a train in India every day. Inevitably, many of them end up spending a lot of time in train stations.

Starting today, those passing through Mumbai Central station will have access to something that we hope will make their wait a bit more enjoyable and productive — free, high-speed Wi-Fi. So, if you’re one of the 100,000 people who’ll pass through Mumbai Central today, go ahead, stream the video below in HD to learn more. After that, how about sending those last minute work emails, downloading a new game or offlining a few YouTube videos to keep the kids, and yourself, entertained on the journey ahead.

While we’re thrilled to have the Wi-Fi at this station up and running, it’s really just a small first step. As our CEO, Sundar Pichai, said when we first announced this project, this is just the first of 100 train stations we’ll be bringing online by the end of the year. And one of 400 stations, across every part of India, that we aim to reach in the years ahead in partnership with Indian Railways and RailTel.

We’re hoping those of you from — or traveling through — Allahabad, Jaipur, Patna and Ranchi, will be as excited to learn that your stations are up next!  Stay tuned for details on when you too will be able to start streaming while you wait.

So how does all of this work?

Well, if you’re in Mumbai Central, or, soon, in one of these next four stations, you’ll know that high-speed Wi-Fi is available if you see the ‘RailWire Wi-Fi’ network in your Wi-Fi settings. If you see it, select it and follow the simple steps below to gain access on your phone and up to two additional devices, like a laptop or tablet — you’ll just need an Indian mobile number to get an access code for each device:
The Wi-Fi will be entirely free to start, so you can stream and download to your heart’s content. While there will always be some level of free Wi-Fi available, the long-term goal will be making this self-sustainable to allow for expansion to more stations and places, with RailTel and other partners, in the future. Also, to make sure that a few people spending all day in the station downloading lots of big files don’t slow down the network for everyone, users might notice a drop in speed after their first hour on the network. Most people should still be able to do the things they’ll want to do online.

Finally, though we’re not going to put a number on it, the thing we’re most excited about with this service is the speed. Most people in India do not have high-speed connectivity. Sadly, connections here are among the slowest in Asia. According to some sources, only around 2 to 4 million households, in a country of 1.3 billion people, have a connection fast enough to stream an HD movie.

We like to think that the thousands, and soon millions, of Indians who come through these stations every day, experiencing the full-speed, open Internet for the first time, will help to push for better connectivity in other places as well. Because we know that even though this project will be the largest public Wi-Fi project in India to date – making Wi-Fi fast enough to stream an HD movie available to 10 million people a day by the end of the year – there are still nearly a billion Indians who have no Internet at all, and millions more who experience just a fraction of the Internet we rely on everyday to learn and laugh and connect with the people we love.

Posted by Gulzar Azad, Head of Access Programs, Google India