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It comes as little surprise that Google plans to provide public WiFi in 400 train stations across India. Right now, India is a fast-growing market that tech companies are taking advantage of.
The news comes at the same time Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is touring the US. As part of his trip, Modi visited Google’s headquarters and also made a stop at Facebook for a Q&A with Mark Zuckerberg.
The roll-out for the project, says Google CEO Sundar Pichai — an Indian native — will see 400 train stations across India receive WiFi. The plan is to have 100 of the busiest stations in India connected before the end of 2016, with the remaining stations following in quick succession. The 100 train stations translate to 10 million rail passengers a day.
Pichai notes that more than 300 million people in India are online, and that 100 million of them started using the internet for the first time last year. He however also points out that a huge number of people — nearly one billion — remain offline and this initiative is a way to change that.
Pichai adds that the WiFi will be fast, “allowing travellers to stream a high definition video while they’re waiting, research their destination, or download some videos, a book or a new game for the journey ahead”.
To make this initiative possible, Google is partnering with Indian Railways. Though the deadline for the project is in 2016, Google plans to roll-out immediately, connecting the first batch of stations in the coming months.
This map shows the first 100 stations that will have high-speed Wi-Fi by the end of 2016
Read more: Our mobile future will be driven by WiFi
Good news for India commuters is that the service will be free at first.
“Just like I did years ago, thousands of young Indians walk through Chennai Central every day, eager to learn, to explore and to seek opportunity. It’s my hope that this Wi-Fi project will make all these things a little easier,” Pichai says.
Google launched its Android One mobile in India last year, launched a feature that makes mobile webpages load faster and with less data, made YouTube available offline and launched Hindi Voice Search. The company also plans to bring offline Maps to India soon.