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Google Plans Big for Indian Public Wifi Market

Google is planning to expand Wi-Fi services to malls and varsities by taking its service called station beyond railway stations to public places such as malls, cafés and universities.

For the expansion, Google is in talks with several stakeholders including telecom operators and internet service providers (ISPs) and state governments. The US-based tech firm has completed the rollout of RailWire Wi-Fi across 400 railway stations in partnership with RailTel in India, as reported by a leading daily.

WiFi ecosystem and philosophy

Telcos are something google is definitely talking to for things like Wi-Fi coverage and data offload to decongest networks. Those are the reasons why telcos want to be in this space.  Wi-Fi is in the nascent stages here.

Whosoever is interested in public Wi-Fi ecosystem, google is engaging with them to drive the access. Google’s philosophy is: how do we connect the next billion?

Contribution of telecom companies to public wifi

Telcos can benefit by monetising demand for faster mobile broadband and higher data volumes on their networks, as people get used to fast speeds.

According to some reports  Google has bagged a deal with RailTel and Larsen & Toubro to deploy 150 Google Station hotspots in Pune. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have already launched Wi-Fi hotspots to offload data traffic and ease pressure on their mobile networks –both independently and through their joint venture, FireFly Networks.

Reliance Jio has also been deploying hotpots largely at public places. These telcos could use their Wi-Fi network to offer voice over Wifi (VoWiFi) services in India as well.

Public open wifi project

The government is trying to push the public Wi-Fi ecosystem in the country under its ambitious ‘Public Open Wi-Fi’ project that aims to proliferate the use of Wi-Fi by offering cheap internet connectivity to people in tier-2 and 3 towns in India.

Trai has already given recommendations for creating public data office aggregators (PDOA) and public data office (PDO) who should be allowed to provide internet access through Wi-Fi technology, even without taking a licence.

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