Indian Railways is one of the world's most connected rail networks, linking together more than 7,000 stations, but it is now set to become connected in a different way. Google has outlined plans to install free Wi-Fi at 400 of these stations, bringing Internet access to the more than 10 million travelers who pass through them each day.
Google's new undertaking will be carried out in collaboration with Indian Railways and Railtel, an Indian broadband provider. The search giant aims to bring the first stations online in the next few months, and then roll the service out to 100 of India's busier stations by the end of 2016. The remaining stations will be connected thereafter.
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Google says that bringing 100 of the busiest stations in India online will make it the largest public Wi-Fi project in the country and among the largest in the world. It will bring Internet access to the more than 10 million people that pass through the stations each day at faster speeds than most in the country currently have access too. Google says users will be able to stream HD video and download videos, books and games.
The service will be free initially, but over time Google hopes to make it self-sustainable so that it can expand to cover more stations and locations . All of this fits in with Google's overarching aim of bringing millions of new users online, of which India is only part of the puzzle.
Last month, the search giant announced its low-cost Android One smartphone will be available in Africa, having launched the device in India the previous year. Its Project Loon initiative has also recently expanded with a view to covering every inch of Sri Lanka with Internet access through a network of floating balloons.