After Google, it is social media giant Facebook, which is looking to hook up with Indian Railways to provide Wi-Fi across railway stations. RK Bahuguna, chairman of Indian Railways’ communications arm RailTel, said the company will start talks with Facebook for expanding its Wi-Fi coverage not only to railway stations but to villages in the vicinity as well.
But unlike the existing Google-backed plan, RailTel wants to take the Internet to smaller rail stops, making it available to neighboring villages via additional access points. Under the Google-RailTel Internet programme, nearly 2 million people access free Wi-Fi every month across 21 railway stations.
Both Google and Facebook are not only tech rivals in the market of digital advertising but they are also competing to bring internet to more and more users. While Facebook is hoping to create a world-wide network of internet connectivity using a drone, Google is aiming to do the same with help of big balloons. The two companies, at the same time, are also partnering with organizations like Indian Railways to reach out to more people.
The free Wi-Fi offered by RailTel and Google is already available at over 19 stations and the aim of the programme is to bring it to at least 100 stations by the end of 2016.