Uber And Ola Add Free In-Car WiFi To Their Taxi On-Demand Services In India

There’s good news if you’re a ride-sharing app regular in India and sick of struggling with the country’s sometimes (/often) patchy mobile internet coverage. Both Uber and Indian rival Ola have revealed that they will begin offering in-car connectivity to customers for free.

Uber just made its second significant announcement out of India this week after it outed a new tie-up with mobile operator Airtel. The partnership, which comes two days after the company took funding from a top private equity fund, will allow Uber passengers to use free, 4G internet during their rides on the service.

The in-ride 4G feature begins in Mumbai, but Uber said it will roll out across all of India soon. In addition, Uber will integrate Airtel’s payment service, which joins mobile wallet service Paytm, debit/card cards and, in some cities, cash as possible payment methods in India.

Ola, the U.S. firm’s chief rival in India, is offering internet too, in a slightly different way. This week, the SoftBank-backed firm announced ‘Ola Select,’ a benefits program that rewards top users of the service with perks. Alongside free, in-car WiFi, top customers — who TechCrunch understands will be selected by the frequency of trips made through Ola — will enjoy offers with partner companies, such as fashion commerce firm Myntra.

I asked Ola if it was making money from those partnerships, but the firm said it is not and neither does it plan to. The sole purpose of Select, it seems, is encouraging engagement from customers. With that in mind, Ola said it would gradually expand the program to cover more of its userbase, but it will be focused on the top, repeat passengers rather than everyone.