Public wi-fi: Google Station open to more partnerships
Google-built wi-fi already attracts a monthly traffic of 3.5m at 52 Indian railway stations
Following its public WiFi collaboration with RailTel, Google has launched Google Station, a public WiFi platform which allows high-speed internet to be provided at any Indian venue or location via partnerships with Google.
"We asked ourselves, why stop at railway stations. What if we could bring connectivity to more people? By getting wifi into more malls, bus stops, city centers, cafes, million more will be able to learn and find info they need, not just in India but anywhere" Caesar Sengupta, vice president for product development said at an event in Delhi.
Currently, Google Station is live in 52 stations including Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Sengupta said more than 3.5 million people are using RailWire WiFi every month. "Among them, around 15000 are coming online for the first time every single day is our estimate". He added that the average usage per user is 600 Mb on a 30 minute free connection.
Google Station takes care of managing the network, and on-boarding of users. It provides a single unified login. Sengupta said that company will offer different means to monetize. "Some will make it free, some show ads, some will charge users," he added.
Earlier, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had brought out a consultation paper asking "how do we get WiFi hotposts everywhere in India?". It noted that small entrepreneurs or small shop-owners could create hotpsots and earn profits from them. Public wi-fi networks shouldn't be limited to licensed TSP/ISPs only. The regulator also proposed creating a central platform for payments across different WiFi networks and introducing 'pay-as-you-go' method for users to attract more consumers into public WiFi services.
Public wi-fi has taken off, and is growing in India. Apart from the Tatas, Airtel, and other private telcos, public company BSNL is into it. It had over 2500 hotshops in over 1200 locations by May last. ISPs are also active: for example, Ortel Communications has introduced free public WiFi hotspots for its broadband subscribers in some areas. It says over 30,000 people were using its public WiFi. ISP Joister has launched Joispot WiFi, a free public WiFi initiative in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune, with speeds of upto 2Mbps. In Delhi, Techno Sat Comm and PING Network have rolled out public WiFi service at Delhi metro across all stations.
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