Google gets 1 billion Indians connected

Train stations in India are set to provide one billion users with internet access.

From the Series

India's railways will be used to provide internet access to millions of people.
India's railways will be used to provide internet access to millions of people.

Google’s Access and Energy team plan to roll out internet access to one billion Indians by providing high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across the country. “We’d like to help get these next billion Indians online—so they can access the entire web, and all of its information and opportunity,” says Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google.

In announcing the project in September, Pichai revealed that over 100 million people in India began using the internet in the past year. While this is a high number of people, one billion people are still not exposed to the benefits of the web.

In partnership with the world’s largest railway network, India Railways, and internet service company, RailTel, Pichai plans to rectify India’s connectivity problem. “And not just with any old connection—with fast broadband so they can experience the best of the web,” he added.

Pichai plans to expand the project quickly, covering 100 of the busiest stations in India before the end of 2016, with the remaining stations following in quick succession. The initial 100-station rollout is expected to make Wi-Fi available to more than 10 million people who pass through everyday.

Already considered one of the largest public Wi-Fi projects in the world, the service is expected to be fast, and free – at first.

“The service will be free to start, with the long-term goal of making it self-sustainable to allow for expansion to more stations and other places, with RailTel and more partners, in the future,” says Pichai.

Other efforts undertaken by Google include the launch of an affordable high-quality smartphone called Android One, a feature that makes webpages load faster and cheaper, and the Indian Language Internet Alliance to foster more local language content.