Today, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai shared details on a new plan to bring more Indian residents online. He notes that there’s still over a billion of them in his native country that aren’t connected.
The key? India’s train system. And a plan to bring Wi-Fi to its 10 million rail passengers a day. And it’s free (to start). Pichai shared Google’s plans, while sharing his own story about his days using Chennai Central station to get to school.
We’d like to help get these next billion Indians online—so they can access the entire web, and all of its information and opportunity. And not just with any old connection—with fast broadband so they can experience the best of the web. That’s why, today, on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to our U.S. headquarters, and in line with his Digital India initiative, we announced a new project to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across India.
All of the big tech companies have been getting a visit from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with Facebook being one of them. Each company seems to have its own ideas on how to expand Internet availability and Google’s is definitely unique.
Here’s a map of the first 100 train stations that will get Wi-Fi by the end of 2016:
Google will be working with Indian Railways and RailTel on the initiative.
Pichai outlined why just 100 stations will speed up the process of getting more of India’s residents on the Internet:
Even with just the first 100 stations online, this project will make Wi-Fi available for the more than 10 million people who pass through every day. This will rank it as the largest public Wi-Fi project in India, and among the largest in the world, by number of potential users. It will also be fast—many times faster than what most people in India have access to today, allowing travelers to stream a high definition video while they’re waiting, research their destination, or download some videos, a book or a new game for the journey ahead. Best of all, the service will be free to start, with the long-term goal of making it self-sustainable to allow for expansion to more stations and other places, with RailTel and more partners, in the future.
This is the first big initiative for Sundar Pichai as the CEO of Google, which will also be holding a major hardware event this week. He noted “It’s my hope that this Wi-Fi project will make all these things a little easier.” This initiative, along with others like the Android One project should help the next generations of the residents of India get — and stay — online.