RailTel Corporation of India Ltd, a Mini Ratna CPSU under the Ministry of Railways, has successfully completed work of turning 1000 railway stations across the country into Free Wi-Fi zone.
RailTel started the project in January 2016 from Mumbai Central station in Maharashtra. It was the first station to have the fast and free RailWire Wi-Fi and in a span of two years and three months, RailTel has completed 1000 stations, read a statement.
The Reay Road station of the suburban line of Central Railways in Mumbai is the 1000th station to go live with Wi-Fi.
"RailTel envisages expanding the network in more stations in near future. Recently RailTel has roped in Tata Trust for providing Wi-Fi at remaining 4791 B, C, D and E category stations across the country. These stations will have free high-speed RailWire Wi-Fi by RailTel by the end of this year. Once completed all Railway stations (except the halt stations) of Indian Railways will have fast and free RailWire Wi-Fi," the statement read.
"These are very small stations catering to mainly rural/low population density areas. There is a visible digital divide between rural and urban India and rural populations are deprived of state-of-the-art telecom infrastructure availability as private operators often find it hard due to CAPEX involved. Easy and low-cost availability of smartphones in the market provides the rural population with low-cost access device but lack of infrastructure becomes a hindrance for them to access high-speed internet," the statement added.
Free Wi-Fi services to passengers are being provided under 'RailWire'- the retail Broadband initiative of RailTel.
Praising the RailWire Wi-Fi at stations, D.K. Sharma, General Manager, Central Railways, said, "Passengers are very happy about the Wi-Fi service quality and millions of people are getting the benefits of the free Wi-Fi provided by RailTel. The response to the Wi-Fi at railway stations across India has been phenomenal. In the month of February 2019, the total number of unique users of station Wi-Fi across the country was 11577141 and aggregated data consumption was 9065.27 TB."
Talking about the Wi-Fi service at stations, Puneet Chawla, CMD, RailTel said, "The project of providing Wi-Fi at railway stations is a very challenging project for RailTel from many aspects. The large size of stations, various hindrances for the Wi-Fi signal such as thick stone walls blocking coverage, every station design being unique the fitments needing customization, huge footfalls, power outages, redevelopments of stations and ongoing construction activities at stations are a couple of noteworthy challenges RailTel faced while executing the project. But that did not stop us from achieving this unprecedented height and we are truly overwhelmed by the response we got from the users which pushed us further to bring RailWire Wi-fi at all the Railway stations of Indian Railways."