Facebook to Bring Free WiFi to Railway Stations & Near by Villages

Social Media giant Facebook is planning to tie up with Indian Railways to provide WiFi across Indian Railways Stations. Facebook founder is actively working on his mission to bring the whole world closer through the power of internet. It is very soon expected to announce its plans to bring internet connectivity via WiFi hotspots to Indian Railways stations.

After eight months of Google’s announcement of its plans to provide WiFi connections across 100 railways stations, Facebook has now come forward with a similar plan to provide WiFi across multiple railways station in India. Facebook is lately being doing some research work on this initiative and it has also done a pilot across 125 rural locations after purchasing bandwidth from Bharat Sanchar Nigam. It has also begun negotiating with a number of internet firms in an effort to expand its Wi-Fi services in India. Facebook is also in a process of making a deal with Indian Railways so as to deliver good-quality Wi-Fi across the Indian Railways stations.  
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RailTel chairman RK Bahuguna has confirmed that RailTel was recently approached by social networking giants for Wi-Fi initiative in the Railway Stations. RailTel is also an Internet service provider and holds a category - A license and its RailTel partnership with Facebook could extend beyond railway stations. RailTel already has over 45,000 km of optic fiber setup across the railway stations in India which accounts for about 4000 internet ready stations across the country. RailTel is in a position to provide the basic infrastructure which includes optical fiber, local area network and power supply for the WiFi system.

Facebook is expecting to expand its Wi-Fi coverage beyond the Indian Railway stations to nearby villages and RailTel is quite positive about the initiative. The project could provide data services up to 10 km radius around the railway station. The range is further planned to be expanded to up to 25 km radius. This would benefit not only the railway stations but also the villages in its vicinity.

Facebook’s idea is not a fresh one as tech giant Google had already announced a similar initiative last year during NarendraModi’s visit to the Silicon Valley. Google had promised to launch free Wi-Fi services in 400 railway stations by the year 2017 together with RailTel. Currently the service is available in 19 of the Indian Railway stations and is accessed by more than 1.5 million people.

Though Facebook and Google are tech rival in the market of digital advertisement, they are also competing against each other to provide internet connection to more and more users. Facebook is hoping to create a world-wide network of internet connectivity using drone, Google is aiming to do the same with the help of big balloons. Both the companies are partnering with the Indian Railways to reach out to more and more people.

India with a 1.3 billion population has only 300 million people, accessing the internet and hence such initiative from Facebook are most welcomed, in fact is much needed. Analysts predict that India could have as many as 730 million internet users by 2020 and hence Facebook and Google are trying their level best to reach out to Indian citizens!



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