If you look at the sheer number of potential users, the Google-Indian Railway tie up is the biggest Wi-Fi project in India, and among the largest in the world. Over 10 million commuters will make use of free internet.
In his quest to empower India with every available facility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully convinced Google boss, Larry Page, to offer free Wi-Fi service at 400 railway stations across India. He gave final shape to the deal with Google during his whirlwind tour of the US.
Mumbai Central will get the first connection in October and by 2016 end, around 100 stations will have free internet access, with a small adjustment. The free Wi-Fi will be available only for 30 minutes over a 24-hour period for each user, after which it will become a paid service. It is still nothing less than a coup, a development that didn’t even seem conceivable!
According to Railtel, the proposed Google network will be capable of delivering HD video streaming services and passengers will be able to download a movie in 4 minutes before they embark on long journeys. The possibilities are limitless.
Imagine the transformation. Free Wi-Fi hotspots will enable people to work on the move, at least take care of responsibilities that require urgent attention. The emailings and the revision of presentations can be done even before you reached office. This is nothing short of revolutionary. We will become a nation that doesn’t waste its time too much, at least not during the sometimes eternal waiting one endures at stations.
Life will become so much more convenient. Moreover, the tie-up with Google will help the company promote its retail brand, Railwire, as it expands nationally.
I can imagine myself sitting at the New Delhi railway platform and using a free Wi-Fi for downloading a movie in less than 5 minutes, and of course, browsing through my Facebook newsfeed. I know what’s in it for me and being a resident of Mumbai, I can’t wait to log on to my account at the station, especially when trains are delayed.
Narendra Modi is being accused of acting like a salesman by his critics. Such voices will always exist, with their own reasons to oppose the move, but they must realise that the end beneficiary are the people. The debate should stop at that.