This is an update of an earlier article on Google Managed WiFi network for India Railways:
Google today announced a collection of updates aimed at helping get ‘the next billion’ internet users in India and emerging markets online. One of the more subtle yet interesting components to that push is the launch of Google Station, a project to enable free public Wi-Fi hotspots, which is now open for new partners.
In India alone, Google estimates that 10,000 people go online for the first time each hour, while in Southeast Asia the figure is 3.8 million per month.
The company made a big push on the free Wi-Fi initiative, and today it revealed that it now covers 50 national stations, providing internet access to 3.5 million people each month. (That’s up from 1.5 million in June.) Google and RailTel are targeting 400 stations nationwide, and, in addition to that, it has now opened the program up to other public organizations.
Google Station is aimed at all manner of public businesses, from malls, to bus stops, city centers, and cafes. And not just those in India, too, Google said.
“We’re just getting started and are looking for a few strategic, forward-thinking partners to work with on this effort,” it added in a statement.
For all the excitement around how Google is disrupting U.S. internet access with Project Fi and Google Fiber, Google Station has the potential to take things even further by giving the hundreds of millions who lack decent quality internet access, a reliable connection to get online regularly for the first time. That is potentially life-changing for many.
No doubt the project is in its early days, but it has the potential to do an incredible amount of good — and hopefully without running into conflicts of interest, as the free internet project from Facebook did.