Facebook may soon join Google in extending the Wi-Fi Railways initiative to villages in the country. The social networking giant has approached Railtel, the partner of Google for Wi-Fi at certain railway stations, to be a part of the Wi-Fi initiative.
RK Bahuguna, chairman of Indian Railways’ communications arm RailTel told Economic Times, “Facebook India has approached us for the Wi-Fi initiative initially. We will engage with the company for the expansion of our Internet access programme across railways stations to cover villages in the vicinity.”
RailTel is currently in a process of rolling out Railwire-branded Wi-Fi hotspots in partnership with Google.
Under the tie-up with Google, Railtel aims to connect at least 100 railway stations with data network by the year end. The initiative already providers free internet access through Wi-Fi hotspots to nearly 2 million people across 21 railway stations.
Bahuguna further said that RailTel can extend the radius of Wi-Fi service by up to 25 km via additional access points through its proposed tie-up with Facebook. RailTel has an optic fibre-based network across some 4,000 railway stations in India. It is capable of providing the passive infrastructure that includes optical fibre, local-area network (LAN) and power supply for the Wi-Fi system within station premises in addition to Internet backhaul of 1Gbps at each station.
Facebook recently concluded a pilot across 125 rural locations after purchasing bandwidth from state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL). The Mark Zuckerberg-owned firm is currently in talks with various Internet service firms for Express Wi-Fi expansion in the country.