Google Ends its Free Wi-Fi Service at Indian Railway Stations

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Google started its Wi-Fi services named station back in 2015. It was launched as a partnership between Indian railways, Google, and Railtel to bring free and fast Wi-Fi to near about 400 busiest railway stations in India. Later on, in mid-2018, Google crossed that number. However, a few days ago, Google decided to end its free service in these 400 stations in India and planning to shut down it in many other parts of the world too. That has made this news a global concern, and it took a night to spread the word to the public via Indian national news in English. The idea winding down of the station program, globally, came up because the internet has become easily approachable and cheaper over the past five years.

Google has worked with numerous partners to work on this plan. However, they don’t feel it is worth it anymore to further continue with the station program. When the program was launched in 2015 in India, it has helped millions of users to stay connected to the internet and without any limit on the amount of data they consumed. In many markets, the mobile data got cheaper, and the necessity of Google Station no longer exists. Therefore, the company plans to terminate the station program this year.

The company used to serve this fantastic station program in numerous countries, including Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Thailand, South Africa, Nigeria, the Philippines, Brazil, and India. This year, the company will wound down the program World Wide. In India, Google has worked with Railtel, Pune Smart city, and Indian railways and it has announced the shutdown, Railtel is ready to take forward this service alone in India’s 5900 railway station.

Mukesh Ambani launched his telecom network Reliance Jio after a year Google announced its program to offer free Wi-Fi service in Indian Railways Stations. At no charge, Jio provides the bulk of 4G data to its users for an extended time, which forced other telecom operators to slash down their package prices. This single move helped millions of Indians to the internet for whom accessing the internet was way too expensive. There are predictions that Google Station somehow diminished because of the Reliance Jio free internet scheme. This scheme has been working with the partners.

Moreover, the most challenging part of maintaining this station is providing services according to each country’s requirements. However, due to variations in infrastructure and technical requirements of partners around the country, it has become tough for the Google station to be sustainable and scalable. And when we envision what we want next in our future, we see more significant opportunities and higher needs in making a better future for online business.

Google mentioned in a blog post on Monday that with the evolution in technology, it had now become more comfortable and cheaper to access the internet as compared to before when Google Station was launched in India. The first station went live in January 2016 in Mumbai Central, and later on, after its first initiative, Google has named it as Google Station. Also, Google announced it would be partnering with other locations, including malls and cafes. In spite of being able to reach up to 400 station goals in 2018, Google said its work was still incomplete.

Meanwhile, Google Station was launched in South Africa in November 2019 in about 125 locations. However, after three months of the launch, Google announced it is winding down the Station program, which hit everyone by surprise, and it has become the latest Indian national news in English. Obviously, Google is not the only company that has tried to make access to the internet more accessible. Facebook launched Express Wi-Fi in India in 2016, after a history of failure.

Many companies have been experimenting after the launch of Google station with new technologies to provide better and complete access to the internet, where fixed infrastructure is more unreliable. But, a few days ago, Google announced it is winding off-plan, and it is happening due to the degrading need for access to the internet as compared to it was a few years ago.

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