Indian Railways to set up high-speed Wi-Fi facility across all railway stations in the country. Currently, there are nearly 8,500 railway stations in the country including those in rural and remote areas. The government is looking to set up the Wi-Fi facility under the Digital India initiative, and the estimated cost of this project is Rs 700 crore ($110 million).
Under the Digital India initiative, the national railway agency has currently commissioned Wi-Fi services at 216 major stations, which enables over seven million rail passengers to log on to the free Internet facility.
"Internet access has now become an important requirement in day-to-day working, and we shall be providing this facility at all railway stations in the country," a senior Railway Ministry official said as reported by IANS.
It is also said that the final project plan has been finalised at a recent meeting. Under the finalised plan, 1,200 stations have been identified for the Wi-Fi facility to "primarily cater to rail passengers, about 7,300 stations have been earmarked to not only serve passengers but also local people in rural and remote areas," said the IANS report.
In rural and remote areas, this service will be offered to the local population as well with an aim to makeover and facilitate the users with the internet. This move is also in-line to promote digital India and e-governance.
Kiosk points with free Wi-Fi will be set up in rural areas, which will act as digital hotspots. These kiosks will offer services such as digital banking, Aadhaar generation, issuing government certificates, including birth and death certificates, and filing taxes and paying bills, among others.
Another best part of these kiosks is that it will enable the residents to order and receive goods from various e-commerce portals. "These kiosks will be operated at stations with private participation for the local population," said an official to the publication, adding, "The modalities of setting up such digital hot spots are being worked out with the Telecom Ministry."
"Our aim is to ensure that more and more people get connected to the rail Wi-FI system as the Wi-Fi broadband access to these rail users will aid in implementing the government's Digital India initiative," the official said.
As per the project and deadline, 600 stations are targeted to be provided with the Wi-Fi facility by March 2018, while the rest of railway stations would be covered by March 2019. Currently, 257 railway stations across the country are Wi-Fi enabled, and the work is going on in 261 more stations, which may be completed by the end of this months. This project is named as 'Railwire.'