Google said it is shutting its free Wi-Fi programme in India — Station — which was available across 400 railways stations. Started in 2015, this was one of the first initiatives Google had started in the country under its ‘Next Billion Users’ or ‘NBU’ strategy. Google VP (payments and NBU ) Caesar Sengupta said cheap data in the country was one of the primary reasons to shut down the service.
“As we look to the next phase of enabling access, it’s clear that since we started five years ago, getting online has become much simpler and cheaper. Mobile data plans have become more affordable and connectivity is improving globally. India, now has among the cheapest mobile data per GB in the world, with data prices having reduced by 95% in the last five years, according to Trai in 2019,” Sengupta said.
Station, which is also available in Thailand, Mexico and Nigeria, will see its exit from the international markets across the year. While Google did not mention any telecom player’s name for cheap internet here, it was Reliance Jio that disrupted the Indian market, leading to a crash in data prices.
Station, which is also available in Thailand, Mexico and Nigeria, will see its exit from the international markets across the year. While Google did not mention any telecom player’s name for cheap internet here, it was Reliance Jio that disrupted the Indian market, leading to a crash in data prices.
“We are working with our partners to transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community,” Sengupta said. RailTel, a state-owned telecom infrastructure provider, Indian Railways and Pune Smart City are Station’s partners in India.
“Our commitment to supporting the next billion users remains stronger than ever, from continuing our efforts to make the internet work for more people,” he added. Currently, one of the largest focus areas for Google, under NBU, is its payments service, which had 67 million monthly active users in September 2019.
Back in 2015, Google partnered with Indian Railways and Railtel to bring free public Wi-Fi to over 400+ railway stations in India under its Station programme. Now, the company has announced that it will stop. However, this doesn't mean that there will not be free Wi-Fi at stations any longer. RailTel said in a statement that it will continue to provide free Wi-Fi after their 5-year partnership with Google ends in May 2020. Here are 10 things to know about Google’s decision to not extend the partnership with RailTel.

  • Google Station was available in 400+ railway stations across the country.
  • Getting online, as per Google, in India has become cheaper and simpler.
  • Mobile data plans have become really affordable and more users have access to data, so the need of public Wi-Fi has reduced
  • India has the cheapest mobile data per GB in the world
  • Overall, internet connectivity has improved and become affordable in the country
  • Google and its partners faced challenges in terms of technical requirements and infrastructure
  • The company said that it was getting difficult for Station to scale and become sustainable for its partners
  • Google sees greater need and bigger opportunities in other areas
  • The program will be gradually shut down over the course of the next 10 months
  • Google said that it will continue to build more relevant and helps apps and services

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