RailTel invites biggest wi-fi tenders, Google, Facebook, Jio in bidding fray

TRAI

Indian Railways will soon cover almost 90 per cent of India’s railways stations under wi-fi network. Railway subsidiary RailTel Corporation of India (RailTel) has invited wi-fi tenders for covering 7,700 stations in the D, E and F categories.

The bids involve supply, installation, testing, commissioning, operation and maintenance of wi-fi services at newly covered stations, according to a Business Standard report. The bidding will be conducted on a reverse auction model, where prices will decrease as the sellers underbid one another to obtain business from the buyer.

Importantly, Google, Facebook, Airtel and Reliance Jio are going to be the bidders to acquire the tender.

The Indian Railways has around 8,500 stations across the country and a large chunk of urban stations under A and A1 category already have wi-fi accessibility. Google has worked with RailTel to set up wi-fi hotspots in 400 A1 and A category stations in 2016.

The main motto behind the bidders is to monetises wi-fi with the help of advertisement revenues. Experts say with ad sales, these players plan to collect huge chunk of revenues by tap into a new set of customers to which they can pitch their products.

The advertisement sales revenue from such wi-fi spots could go as high as $2.5 billion by 2020.

Besides, the plan to offer wi-fi services at railway stations, the bidder such as Google, Facebook, Airtel and Reliance Jio are also planning to create free wi-fi hotspots at various places in India.

In January, search giant Google installed 150 Google Station hotspots in Pune to provide free Wi-Fi service. It collaborated with Larsen & Toubro, IBM, and RailTel for offering free Wi-Fi service to about four million people at various locations in the city.

Facebook is coming up with 20,000 wi-fi hotspots in the country. It already runs such a project with Airtel. Reliance Jio has a plan to launch 1.5 million wi-fi hotspots across the country.

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