The High Speed Free Wi-Fi Internet Facility has now become available at 6100 Railway stations across the country. The milestone of 6100 stations with Wi-Fi coverage was reached on 22 March 2022 with the commissioning of Wi-Fi facility at UBARNI Railway station (RaeBareli district, UP) over Lucknow Division of Northern Railway.
- With this, They are close to 100% coverage (except the halt stations) and only a few stations are left. The responsibility to implement this remarkable Digital India initiative has been entrusted to Railway MiniRatna PSU “RAILTEL”. Working tirelessly and continuously even through trying times of Covid pandemic, RailTel is providing state- of- the- art public Wi-Fi under the brand name of ‘RailWire’ which is the retail broadband service of RailTel.
- The highlight of this project is that out of these 6100 Railway stations, more than 5000 stations are in rural areas making Wi-Fi facility available at many far-flung stations across the country like several stations of North Eastern Region and all the 15 stations of Kashmir Valley. Access to Wi-Fi not only connects communities but also opens up a world of opportunity for innovation and growth. India has a stark Digital Divide between Urban and rural India. RailWire Wi-Fi at stations is helping to connect the unconnected as majority of stations of this public Wi-Fi network are located in rural India with poor connectivity.
- Railway Stations are places where cross-section of the society converges. The quickening pace of modernisation and manifold increase in smart phone usage has triggered a ‘Digital India’ revolution. Public visiting stations use this facility for streaming High Definition (HD) Videos, download of movies, songs, games, and do their office work online.
- Envisaged in 2015 Rail Budget, the project of providing free Wi-Fi Internet facility at stations is one of the largest and fastest public Wi-Finetworks of the world and aims to convert the Railway platform into a platform for digital inclusion.
- Students, especially competitive examination aspirants from remote locations with limited access to internet, use the station Wi-Fi facilities for their examination preparations. Passengers are also using this facility for leveraging entertainments on their personal devices.
- Being one of a kind project, there is need to focus on generating public awareness as well so that the project impact is maximized and hence local Railway Zones and Divisions from time to time keep launching awareness campaigns for promoting this facility. Through Videos and Messages on Social Media, Regular Announcements, Hoarding and Banners at Stations, Indian Railway has been promoting the usage of Wi-Fi Facility by the Rail Users and Passengers.
- Designed to offer users the best Internet experience, RailWire Wi-Fi at Railway stations is available to any user who has a smart phone with working mobile connection for KYC considerations. The facility is very user friendly. To switch on the connection, passengers need to scan Wi-Fi options and choose Rail Wire. Once the browser takes the user to the RailWire portal, it will ask for a mobile number to which a One Time Password (OTP) will be sent. Once connected, the Wi-Fi connection will last for 30 minutes. This helps the rail passengers to stay connected and updated with information.
- The Wi-fi is ‘free’ for the first 30 min of usage everyday at 1 mbps speed. For using the Wi-Fi facility further at ‘higher’ speed beyond 30 minutes, the user needs to choose a plan with higher speed by paying a nominal fee. The plans vary from Rs.10/day (for 5GB @ 34MBPS) to Rs.75/30 day (for 60 GB @ 34 MBPS) excluding GST. A number of payment options like net banking, wallet, credit card can be used to purchase plan online.
Talking about it, Sh. Puneet Chawla, Chairman & Managing Director, RailTel said, “RailTel is at the forefront of National Digital Transformation activities. The Wi-Fi internet facility at stations has become quite popular and useful especially at stations situated in rural areas. It is a crucial step for Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Digital India Mission as this Wi-Fi facility will go a long way in connecting the unconnected. This initiative of Indian Railway and RailTel has paved the way for the common Indian Railway Traveller to reap the benefits of Digital Technology. RailTel has invested a significant amount of Capex in building this network and to monetize this we have launched paid Wi-Fi plan across all Wi-Fi stations after allowing first 30 minutes of „free’ use. We are also going to monetize the network through advertisement-based revenue for which we intend to come out with an EOI shortly.”
- RailTel a “MiniRatna (Category-I)” Central Public Sector Enterprise, is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country owning a Pan-India optic fiber network covering several towns & cities and rural areas of the country.
- Along with a strong are liable network of more than 60000 RKM of Optic fibr, RailTel has two tier III data centers as well.
- With its Pan India high-capacity network, RailTel is working towards creating a knowledge society at various fronts and has been selected for implementation of various mission-mode projects for the Government of India in the telecom field.
- RailTel offers a bundle of services like, MPLS-VPN, Telepresence, Leased line, Tower Co-location, Data center services etc.
- RailTel is also working with the Indian Railways to transform railway stations into digital hub by providing public Wi-Fi at railway stations across the country.
Source- RailTel- Press Release | Image Credit (representational): MoR