After five years of its operation, search engine giant Google has decided to wind down its free Wi-Fi program Google Station which was available across 400 railways stations in India.
Cheap data, partner challenges in setting up infrastructure and difficulty in scaling up were among reasons that have led to Google decision to end the services.
“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 have reduced by 95% in the last 5 years,” said Caesar Sengupta VP – Payments and Next Billion Users at Google.
He further added that 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.
The search engine had also attempted to monetise the Station program through advertisements.
Google Station program will be shut down globally in 2020. At present, besides India, the service is live in Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Thailand, the Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Five years ago in 2015, Google had launched Station in India in partnership with Indian Railways and RailTel. The company aimed to bring fast and free public Wi-Fi to over 400 railway stations in India by mid-2020.
Meanwhile, RailTel has said that it will continue to provide its free Wi-Fi service at over 5,600 railway stations including the 415 stations which were commissioned with technological support from Google. In September 2015, RailTel corporation partnered with Google for the project to install Wi-Fi service across railways stations in the country.
Google is not the first company to initiate Wi-Fi service to help the Indian user get internet access. Facebook also had launched express Wi-Fi in India in 2016.