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Google Station Free Wi-Fi Service Being Wound Down Globally, Will Be Helmed by Partners Like RailTel

Google cites the changed context of easily available and affordable mobile data as the reason for its withdrawal.

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Google Station Free Wi-Fi Service Being Wound Down Globally, Will Be Helmed by Partners Like RailTel

Google cited the changing nature of the mobile data landscape as the reason

Highlights
  • Google Station is being shut down globally
  • The free Wi-Fi programme was launched in India back in 2015
  • It has since been expanded to hundreds of railway stations

Google Station is being wound down, globally. To recall, the free Wi-Fi programme was launched in India back in 2015, and has since been expanded to hundreds of railway stations and thousands of other locations in the country. It was launched in collaboration with RailTel, and was branded as powered by Google RailWire. Now that it is winding down, the company will be working with partners such as RailTel to transition existing sites - which means the Wi-Fi service itself isn't likely to shutdown.

In a blog post on Monday, Google cited the changing nature of the mobile data landscape as its primary reason for winding down its Google Station project.

"As we look to the next phase of enabling access, it's clear that since we started five years ago, getting online has become much simpler and cheaper. Mobile data plans have become more affordable and mobile connectivity is improving globally. India, specifically now has among the cheapest mobile data per GB in the world, with mobile data prices having reduced by 95 percent in the last 5 years, as per TRAI in 2019. Today, Indian users consume close to 10GB of data, each month, on average. And similar to what the Indian government did, several governments and local entities have kicked off their own initiatives to provide easier, cost-effective access to the Internet for everyone," the blog post reads.

Google also says that apart from the changed context of mobile data, the "challenge of varying technical requirements and infrastructure among our partners across countries has also made it difficult for Station to scale and be sustainable, especially for our partners." It reveals it is working with its partners to "transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community."

As for what's next on Google's radar, the company said, "And when we evaluate where we can truly make an impact in the future, we see greater need and bigger opportunities in building products and features tailored to work better for the next billion user markets. "

Separately, Google also announced the winding down of Google Station programme in South Africa, which had been launched just three months ago in partnership with Think WiFi.

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Further reading: Google Station, Wi-Fi, RailWire
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