On Saturday, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, shared the details of an ambitious new plan by the global search giant to bring high-speed internet to the people of India by the end of 2016. Noting that there are still more than 1 billion people in the country unable to access the internet, Sundar promised that Google will install high-speed Wi-Fi at more than 400 train stations across the country.
In a country where 10 million people use the railroads each day, having Wi-Fi in train stations seems to be the most effective way for Google to help as many people as possible have access to the internet.
Google made the announcement to bring the internet first to the 100 busiest stations by the end of next year, and then eventually have another 300 stations upgraded with reliable Wi-Fi connections. The initiative, which will be completed in partnership with the Indian Railways and RailTel service provider, was announced at Google’s Mountain View Campus during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi has been visiting dominant Silicon Valley companies over the past few days.
During the past 10 years, the company’s smartphone and computing technology has taken root in India, a development that has seen millions and millions of people purchase smartphones with data capabilities and computers for personal and official use. However, the data plans are currently expensive and unreliable, and with the limited bandwidth, have been a bottleneck to this development. Google has promised to bring a truly high-speed Wi-Fi service that is capable of streaming HD video.
Google’s Wi-Fi will initially be free, but there is a long-term goal of making it self-sustainable enough to grow and expand to other train stations and other places. This basically means that in the future, users will have to contribute some rupees to use the company’s internet services. The cost is expected to be minimal compared to other available options in the country, however the final cost will depend on how successful the project proves to be.