Tag Archives: RailWire Wi-Fi

High-speed Wi-Fi rolls into 100th railway station in India

“I visit [Jaipur station] every 3 to 4 days to get fast access to the Internet. I stop there for a few minutes, download apps, update them and get things my daughter wants. She is in 10th grade and uses my smartphone in the evenings to fulfill her educational needs. She also teaches my wife, her mother, to read and write using my smartphone.”

This is the story of Bhagwan Sahay, whom our team met at Jaipur Railway station, one of the earliest stations to be connected to Railwire Wi-Fi. It’s also one of the many stories we’ve heard from people across India who are using the Wi-Fi in ways that improve their daily lives.

With Railwire Wi-Fi rolling into Udhagamandalam (Ooty) today, we’ve now brought high-speed Internet to 100 of the busiest railway stations across India. That means the 10 million people (think the entire population of Sweden) who pass through these stations every day now have access to fast enough Internet to stream (or offline) an HD video, research their destination or download a new book or game for the journey ahead. And for 15,000 people, every day, these stations connect them to the Internet for the first time, ever.

We’re really excited about how far we’ve come since we announced that we were partnering with Indian Railways and RailTel to provide Wi-Fi at 400 railway stations throughout the country. But what has really inspired us are the stories of how people, like Bhagwan, are using this high-speed access to the full and open Internet.

They’re using Railwire Wi-Fi to be more productive with their time and to get things done more efficiently. Somesh Singh in an engineering graduate who logs on at Hazrat Nizamuddin station in Delhi to search the web for job opportunities and prepare for interviews without having to wait for slow loading pages or worry about the cost of browsing. Ajay Jain is a teacher who uses the Wi-Fi to get schoolwork done on his daily commute from Indore to Ujjain, so he can spend more time with his family once he gets home. And there’s Sandesh Awasthi, a cricket fan who no longer has to miss another game if he can stream matches live while waiting at Churchgate station in Mumbai.

And because it's high-speed, quality Wi-Fi, travellers are now able to connect with their loved ones more regularly and can even see them using video calling apps.

“I am migrant worker from Bihar and I travel to Rajasthan for work. Traveling usually means I won’t have a good connection. I got so excited when I saw free Wi-Fi here at the station. I just called my wife, and the voice and picture clarity were so good. I haven’t seen her face this clear in so long, whenever I talk the image is blurred because the network isn’t great. She also got so excited to see my call, she was very surprised to see me. I feel so good after speaking to her.
I can’t stop smiling.” — Bholu
A traveler checks train timetables online

A look inside Churchgate station, one of Mumbai's busiest, which came online in August.

What’s next? In September we announced Google Station, which gives partners an easy set of tools to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. With all the possibilities that our partnership with Indian Railways and Railtel have created for 10 million Indians passing through 100 stations every day, we look forward to the many more opportunities that Google Station will open up to every Indian and the stories we hope to hear from them.

Posted by Gulzar Azad, Country Head - Connectivity, Google India

1.5 million Indians enjoy high Speed Wi-Fi across 19 Railway Stations

Internet today represents an opportunity that can catapult India into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. Even with 350* million Indians online today, the digital divide in India continues to remain a big challenge. On the occasion of the inaugural World Wi-Fi Day by The Wireless Broadband Alliance  that aims to provide a platform to help bridge the Digital Divide. We want to take this moment to celebrate the milestone we have hit with our project with Railtel to provide high speed Wi-Fi at Railway Stations across India.

Last week we rolled out the network at four of India’s largest stations - Sealdah, Lucknow Jn, Lucknow and Gorakhpur Jn and we are delighted to share that 1.5 million Indians are now enjoying the high-speed broadband experience across 19 stations. At this scale, this is India’s shining example of a project that is contributing in bridging the digital divide by making high-speed broadband Wi-Fi network more easily accessible to millions of Indians who cross these stations.  

Majority of India continues to access the Internet on a narrow band network, limiting their experience of Internet to basic activities. Easy and affordable access to full fidelity broadband network continues to be a challenge in India and is throttling the economic impact that Internet can have on the country. With this project, our objective is to create abundant broadband access to millions of Indians who’re currently not online or are using it in limited capacity to significantly enhance the benefits and productivity of the Internet. While we’re only at approximately 20% of the roll out schedule for this year, the response has been phenomenal.

We saw 100,000 users connect to the network within a week of launch at Mumbai Central and as we started rolling out the network at more stations, we saw exponential jump in the consumption of the network. Users in tier 2 cities latched onto the network with more enthusiasm and we saw much higher consumption of data in tier 2 cities, where access to high speed broadband is more challenging. Our data reveals that usage in Bhubaneshwar overtook Mumbai central within a day of the launch, and we’re seeing similar usage patterns emerge in tier 2 cities like Patna, Jaipur, Vishakhapatnam.  Per capita consumption of data in tier 2 cities far exceeds the consumption we are seeing in tier 1 cities.

It’s heartening to note that even though users are in transit catching their trains and moving to their destinations, the average consumption per user on the network is 15* times the data they would consume on a 3G pack in a day, which today is the most dominant means of access to the Internet in the country. While the primary usage is focussed around infotainment, we are seeing a lot of users in tier 2 cities use the network to look up and apply for jobs online. Bhubaneswar and Pune see lots of students come to the stations to look for up information related to educational courses, exam results , downloading softwares and upgrading their phone apps

We invite you to share your experience and views on the project #WiFidaywithGoogle

*Source: IAMAI Data, Google Internal Data

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