New Delhi: Google on Monday (February 17) announced that it will wind down its 'Google Station' programme (that provided free Wi-FI at railway stations) in India and other countries stating that going online has become much easier and cheaper over the last five years since the 'Station' was launched in India.
Caesar Gupta, Google Vice President of the Next Billion Users (NBU) announced this through his blog and wrote, ''As we look to the next phase of enabling access, it’s clear that since we started five years ago, getting online has become much simpler and cheaper. Mobile data plans have become more affordable and mobile connectivity is improving globally.''
He also wrote, "India, specifically now has among the cheapest mobile data per GB in the world, with mobile data prices having reduced by 95% in the last 5 years, as per TRAI in 2019. Today, Indian users consume close to 10 GB of data, each month, on average."
The US tech giant said it is working with its partners to transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community.
Google had launched 'Station' in India in 2015 in a partnership with Indian Railways and Railtel to bring fast, free public WiFi to over 400 Indian railway stations by mid-2020.
Caesar wrote, "We crossed that number by June 2018 and implemented Station in thousands of other locations around the country in partnership with telecommunications companies, ISPs and local authorities." He added,"We’re grateful for these partnerships, especially with the Indian Railways and the Government of India, that helped us serve millions of users over the last few years."
Through the Next Billion Users initiative, Google pursues new technical solutions to help the users get more from the internet. They have developed lite apps like YouTube Go, Google Go and have come up with offline features such as YouTube and Maps Offline, to country-specific products like Tez (now Google Pay India) and platforms like Android Go to bring lower-cost devices to customers.
"Our commitment to supporting the next billion users remains stronger than ever, from continuing our efforts to make the internet work for more people," Sengupta said.
Apart from India, Google Station is available in Nigeria, Thailand, Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa.