Recently, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed plans for the company’s renewed focus on India. Part of that plan was ensuring the country’s population could get access to high-speed internet, especially when travelling on the nation’s rail services.
Today, Google has officially announced the launch of its free Wi-Fi service in Mumbai Central, one of India’s busiest train stations where 100,000 people on average pass through every day…
From today, anyone travelling through Mumbai Central should see ‘RailWire Wi-Fi’ appear in their smartphone’s Wi-Fi settings. To get on to the network, there is a short process to go through in order to get connected, which involves getting a bespoke code sent to the user’s smartphone. Users need to have an Indian mobile number to take advantage.
Google notes that once a user has been on the network for an hour, they might notice a speed drop. This is built into the service to stop people from taking advantage and download a ton of big files, or from just hanging around the station all day to use the network.
Following today’s Mumbai launch, Google will next launch the service in Allahabad, Jaipur, Patna and Ranchi before rolling it out to a further 95 stations before the end of the year. Over the coming years, Google plans to have the service live in 400 train stations, creating one of the biggest public Wi-Fi networks in the world.
Initially, the service is free, but Google does have plans to make it self-sustainable, meaning they will begin charging for the service at some point in the future in order to cover the costs of expansion. And while it’s reluctant to give a figure on exactly how fast this network is, it does note that it’s fast enough to stream an HD movie, which is faster than the internet in almost all households in India.
It will be interesting to see how fast and reliable these networks are, particularly in Mumbai Central. With so many people passing through the station every day, connecting to the network, the risks of congestion are clearly very high. Even if the fiber optic network has a really fast top speed, it’s highly unlikely anyone will experience speeds and consistency close to what it’s capable of.