Google last year tied up with RailTel to provide Wi-Fi services across the railway stations in India. The company aims to expand the service to 400 railway stations by 2017 and 100 by the end of this year. With Google’s Wi-Fi service gaining traction in India, RailTel aimed for more partners to benefit users. After Google, Facebook tied up with RailTel to provide Wi-Fi services across India’s railway stations.
“Through this (Facebook) initiative, we will be able to offer data services up to a 10-km radius from a connected rail stop, which however can further be increased by up to 25 km via additional access points,” Bahuguna told ET.
“Facebook India has approached us for the Wi-Fi initiative. We will engage with the company for the expansion of our internet access program across railways stations to cover villages in the vicinity,” he added.
Facebook said earlier this month that it's testing Express Wi-Fi in several remote areas of India. Now it seems the company also has plans to bring free wifi service to railway stations and rural regions.
Facebook's Free Basics (formerly known as Internet.org) received a lot of flak from privacy advocates in India last year. The service, which is operating in emerging regions such as Indonesia, offers users free access to select internet services for free. This wall-gardened approach had irked many resulting in Indians opting for no internet access than having some internet access. Google's free Wi-Fi service, on the other hand, has received appreciations from almost everyone because of its open and fair nature.
The world's second most populous nation India remains one of the biggest growth regions for any company. Of the 1.3 billion people who live in India, only about 300 million people are on the internet. However, analysts predict India could have as many as 730 million internet users as soon as 2020, which shows why Google and Facebook are leaving no stone unturned to ensure they reach out to them first.