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Broadband Accessibility across 5,500 Stations in India

Installation of public WiFiacross 5,500 stations in India has been announced by the Indian Railways. The Ministry of Railways could successfully take tis initiative in association with Public Sector Company RailTel.

This initiative paved a way for the telecom infra company to add free Wi-Fi at many railway stations across India. According to sources, RailWire has become one of the largest Wi-Fi hotspot networks globally with Mahua Milan Station on East Central Railway getting to become the latest station to get free Wi-Fi hotspots for the public.

Piyush Goyal, Railway Minister reportedly announced about setting up 6.5K Wi-Fi hotspots in October 2019. This was also a part of the Railway initiative.

It was in January 2016 when the Wi-Fi initiative got started from the Mumbai Central Station. The Indian Railways managed to complete the project successfully after dedicating a span of 46 months. RailTel has been associated with big names such as Tata Trust, Google and Power Grid Corporations of India Limited (PGCIL) for several phases of the project. Funding for 200 stations have been secured by RailTel from the Department of Telecom Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

RailWire consequently witnessed in October 2019 that a total of 1.5 Cr. Users signed on to ‘RailWire’ Wi-Fi network across all the stations and the data consumed was around 10232 terabytes (TB).

Though the network is free to use, the user mustsign in and out of other hotspots while moving around. This therefore limits the effectiveness of Wi-Fi Hotspots, especially as users sign out regularly. Last month, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Virtual Network Operators Association of India (VOAI) requested the telecom department to provide interoperable and seamless broadband services through public Wi-Fi hotspot networks which would be accessible by user based logins and not an OTP-based system for each attempt.

 

A different report suggested that the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots in India will witness a rise of 6x in order to touch 2.1 Mn in 2021 from 306K in 2019. State-run telecom companies Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) contributed with a total of 88% of public Wi-Fi hotspot in the country, followed by Reliance Jiro and RailTel. As a contribution to this, the National Digital Communications Policy 2018, the Indian government made plans to enable deployment of 5 Mn public Wi-Fi Hotspots and10 Mn by 2022.

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