It’s 2016 and even in some of the world’s richest countries, we are having to “cope” with 3G internet on our mobile phones. Oh, first world problems. Yet in January of this year, Google successfully installed high-speed Wi-Fi at 19 train stations across India, as a part of Narendra Modi’s campaign for Digital India.
The 19 train stations are just the start, with 100 stations expected to have wireless internet installed by the end of the year. This will bring the total of Indians who have taken advantage of this scheme from 1.5 million in six months, to exponential numbers.
Although the UK does boast small areas of free Wi-Fi, such as the London Underground stations and the city of Manchester, most of us are lucky enough to have reliable internet connectivity in our homes and good quality 3G and 4G in a large proportion of areas. However, in smaller cities in India, the internet is just not as reliable and so, of course, the introduction of this internet program has been very well received – particularly as the Wi-Fi that Google is providing is significantly faster than the more readily available 3G network.
During the first week of operation, the free internet in Mumbai saw in excess of 100,000 people connecting to it, yet in smaller cities such as Patna, Bhubaneshwar and Vishakhapatnam, these numbers were seen within mere days, due to the unavailability of good internet connection otherwise. At present, the use of the free Wi-Fi has been limited to one hour a day but does not have any download limits. With downloads being completed quickly, and connection fast enough to stream videos up to 4K, this means that an hour of free internet can go a long way – much further than services who limit based on download size.
Google, in collaboration with prime minister Modi, has brought better connectivity, ease of work and new opportunities to the people of India thanks to this initiative. In an hour a day they can download films to watch later, study on the move or apply for jobs, quicker than ever before, while waiting at train stations. The introduction of this high-speed Wi-Fi at many more Indian train stations is going to make a huge difference to the everyday life of millions of Indians. For people who may not be able to connect to the internet as easily as many of us can, in a way that we often take for granted, this convenient luxury could make their lives easier.
A lot of respect should go to Google for this, proving, once again, that they really are the Giant of the Internet. First India, then the rest of the world!