Google has decided to wind down its Station program, as part of which it worked with a number of other partners to roll out free Wi-Fi at stations in India and in several other public places around the globe, says a report from TechCrunch.
Quoting Caesar Sengupta, vice president (VP) of Payments and Next Billion Users at Google, the report says the program, launched in 2015, and helped millions of users connect to the internet everyday— many for the first time. But as mobile data prices got cheaper in many markets, Google Station was no longer as necessary, he said.
Additionally, it had also become difficult for Google to find a sustainable business model to scale the program. In recent years, the report says, Google did explore ways to monetize Google Station. The company began showing an ad when a user signed in to connect to its internet service.
In India, RailTel Corp of India Ltd (RailTel), a government enterprise, partnered with Google to provide fast Wi-Fi network. RailTel provides high speed end to end network connectivity on fiber, while Google provides radio access network (RAN) along with technology support.
The program was first announced in September 2015, when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Google's chief executive (CEO) Sundar Pichai further detailed the plan in a blog post on the Official Google Blog, noting that it would be the "largest public Wi-Fi project in India, and among the largest in the world, by number of potential users".
In January 2016, RailTel began offering free Wi-Fi across railway stations starting from Mumbai Central.
So far, RailTel has provided free Wi-Fi at about 5,500 railway stations across India.
In January 2018, Google partnered with Larsen & Toubro, India's largest engineering and construction company, to offer 150 hotspots across Pune city under the Smart City project.