After Google, now Facebook to bring Free WiFi to Indian railway stations

After Google, Facebook wants to now offer free WiFi services in Indian Railway stations. The company is planning to offer WiFi services across India and is also focusing on expanding its service to villages.

According to the chairman of Indian Railway Communication arm RailTel, Mr. R.K Bahuguna said that the company will start talks with Facebook for expanding its WiFi coverage not only to railway stations but to villages in the vicinity as well.

Bahuguna has asked Facebook to focus on small railways stations and villages to accelerate the digitisation process of India.

Incidentally, the Indian Railways already has a similar programme running with the help of Google. Both Google and Facebook are not only tech rivals in the market of digital advertising but they are also competing to bring the internet to more and more users. While Facebook is hoping to create a worldwide network of internet connectivity using a drone, Google is aiming to do the same with help of big balloons. The two companies, at the same time, are also partnering with organisations like Indian Railways to reach out to more people.

Facebook, though, has denied commenting on the development, there is no doubt that the company doesn’t want to let Google deep penetrate the second largest Internet and mobile market in the world.

Google has a plan to install WiFi across 400 stations of India by next year. They have been receiving a tremendous response already. About 2 million users have used the WiFi services installed on the railway stations.

Right now, the Google WiFi is at 23 stations across the country. With 8 more Mumbai suburban stations added recently to it, the tally is now 31 stations. Therefore, to restrict Google from setting up its monopoly across the country, Facebook wants to enter the market and keep the impact of Google as less as possible.

“Facebook India has approached us for the WiFi initiative. We will engage with the company for the expansion of our Internet access programme across railways stations to cover villages in the vicinity,” according to Bahuguna.

RailTel is also an Internet service provider and holds a category-A licence for it. According to Bahuguna, providing WiFi service is not viable for RailTel, but with support from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund, it can extend the program to as many as 40,000 villages surrounding 4,000 Internet-ready railway stations across the country.


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