RailWire launched its first public Wi-Fi service with Google’s help at Mumbai Central station. RailWire was brought to life thanks to Airtel’s Internet services on RailTel’s infrastructure with Google providing technical assistance. Rajan Anandan, Managing Director South-East Asia and India along with Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, current Railway Minister of India inaugurated the services for the public. As of now, the service is free of cost but restrictions will soon make their way onto the service as the government plans to make this service self-sustainable in the long run.
We do not want to put out any numbers regarding the speed or bandwidth or the number of users the network can handle but want to be more focused towards providing the users a seamless Wi-Fi experience where in they would be able to stream high definition videos and save them as well on the go” said Gulzar Azad, head of access programs at Google India who’s been supervising the project closely. Regarding the pricing of this service, there was no clarification as to what revenue model will be followed to make the service self-sufficient. Thus, it is more likely that users might have to pay for the service after a certain time. The government is also mulling whether to let the consumers useWi-Fi service free of charge but with ads.
Connecting to the internet via this service is fairly easy, all you have to do is connect to the ‘RailWire’ Wi-Fi network, go to the browser, enter your mobile number to register. After that, you will be sent a One Time Password (OTP) that you have to fill in and you will be connected to the internet.
While using the RailWire Wi-Fi service to live stream the event we noticed fluctuations in the transfer speed and confirmed so by running speed tests. We observed a peak speed of 6.31 Mbps but as more and more people sign-on for the service we’d like to see how the network scales to handle the load that a congested station like Mumbai Central experiences on a daily basis.
In coming weeks, stations such as Allahabad, Patna, Jaipur and Ranchi are scheduled to see the public Wi-Fi service being implemented. By the end of the year, the government plans to touch 10 million users by launching it at various major stations. The infrastructure is claimed to be ready to stream high definition videos as well as provide download at high speeds.
(With inputs from Ashish Panigrahi)