Adding to its streak of glorious successes, Indian Railways has accomplished the turning of 1,000 stations across the country into free-WiFi zones. The project is being spearheaded by RailTel, a Mini Ratna CPSU under the Ministry of Railways in collaboration with Google as the technology partner.
The project was initiated in January 2016 with Mumbai Central railway station being the first station to be equipped with RailWire WiFi facility. In around two years and three months, 1,000 Indian Railways stations have been provided with fast and free WiFi facility.
The Reay Road railway station of Mumbai’s suburban network, which falls under the Central Railway zone, has become the 1000th railway station with RailWire WiFi facility.
Praising the RailWire WiFi at stations, D K Sharma, General Manager, Central Railways, said, "Passengers are very happy about the Wi-Fi service quality and millions of people are getting the benefits of the free Wi-Fi provided by RailTel. The response to the WiFi at railway stations across India has been phenomenal. In the month of February 2019, the total number of unique users of station Wi-Fi across the country was 11577141 and aggregated data consumption was 9065.27 TB," reports Business Standard.
Railway stations of A, A1 and C categories have been equipped with free WiFi facility so far and to provide WiFi at remaining 4791 B, C, D, E category railway stations across India, recently RailTel has roped in Tata Trust. These railway stations are expected to be empowered with free WiFi facility by the end of 2019. The move is being implemented in all stations except halt stations.
According to RailTel, as lack of infrastructure becomes a hindrance for rural/low population density areas to access high-speed internet, free WiFi will be made available at stations of these areas, turning them into a hub for digital growth for rural India.
Moreover, work to provide WiFi at 200 railway stations with the support of Universal Service Obligatory Fund of GoI as well as in 386 railway stations with own/other funding has already been completed by RailTel.
According to Puneet Chawla, CMD, RailTel, this is a very challenging project for RailTel from various aspects. While executing the project, RailTel faced many challenges including large size of railway stations, various hindrances for the WiFi signal such as thick stone walls blocking coverage, power outages, huge footfalls, every station design being unique the fitments needing customisation, redevelopment and ongoing construction activities at railway stations.
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