The daily commute of millions of Indians is about to get far more enjoyable, with Google and Indian Railways partnering to roll out super-fast free Wi-Fi to 400 railway stations across the country.
The plan uses Google Fibre technology, which is currently providing speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps in the US - around 10 times faster than basic Internet. The connection will be slower than that when delivered over Wi-Fi, but according to current reports, the new hotspots will still provide users faster-than-normal Internet for the first 34 minutes before slowing down.
The goal is to help the 20 million or so people that travel by train in India each day access the Internet more seamlessly. For perspective, that's pretty close to the entire population of Australia that will suddenly have free Internet while travelling to and from work, or to other parts of the country.
Right now there's some Wi-Fi access in India's train stations thanks to various Internet providers, but it's pretty patchy and not consistent across the entire country. The Google project, which has been named Project Nilgiri, is currently in the pilot stage with a few hotspots already established, and the rest being rolled out over the next four months.
According to IRCTC, an Indian railway news site, download speeds using the pilot hotspots that have already been set up are around 7 Mbps, with upload speeds at around 5 Mbps, but this will increase in the coming months as more infrastructure is installed. Right now, free access is granted to the hot spots after a one-time password is sent via SMS.
The second phase of Project Nilgiri will involve Google establishing Wi-Fi on board moving trains across the country.
Google has made no secret of its plans to get the entire planet online, and they're not the only ones. Roughly 60 percent of the planet doesn't have regular Internet access, and Facebook, Samsung and Google have all put their hat in the ring to help bring them online. The idea is that the more people using the Internet, the more potential customers these guys will have.
So far Google has made the most impressive advances, with the search engine giants in the process of using balloons to beam Wi-Fi to the most remote regions of Sri Lanka, making them the first country in the world to have universal Internet coverage.
They also have plans to line our streets with Wi-Fi, and are building satellites to help provide even more Internet coverage. Meanwhile, Facebook scrapped its own plans to build Wi-Fi satellites, and is yet to launch its Internet-delivering drones. Samsung is still in the planning stage for their fleet of Earth-orbiting satellites.
The race to get the whole world connected has only just begun, and we're going to see a lot more of these types of initiatives in the years to come. In the end, the real winners will be the billions of people who have access to free or cheap reliable Internet for the first time in their lives.
H/T: Z News