Google brings free Wi-Fi to 400 India train stations, reaches 8 million users

This initiative began in 2015 and "remains unfinished."

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Google kicked off the free Wi-Fi initiative in Mumbai Central Station in 2016.

Hindustan Times

Google announced Thursday that it hit its target in bringing free Wi-Fi to 400 train stations across India, with 8 million people using the service each month.

The initiative began in 2015, the company says in its blog, when it partnered with Indian Railways and RailTel to offer public Wi-Fi to the country's travellers.

It kicked off with Mumbai Central, which went live on January 2016, and reached its goal in Dibrugarh station in northeast Assam state. The typical user consumes 350MB of data per session and more than half use it multiple times a day.

Since then, this model -- known as Google Station -- has been mirrored in Mexico and Indonesia.

Google is also testing a premium model, according to Indian outlet Gadgets 360.

Users get 30 minutes of high speed data for free with ads, pay 19 rupees ($0.28) for 24 hours of ad-free, high speed access or 149 rupees ($2.22) for a week with that access.

India's size -- with an estimated population of 1.3 billion in 2016 -- makes it an attractive market for tech companies. However, Facebook's offer of free limited internet access in rural areas was met with scorn and regulators cut it off after deeming that violated Net neutrality rules.

In Mumbai, the country's largest city, Google launched Neighbourly, a social mobile app that allows users to ask and answer questions about their local area, in open beta.