RailTel has announced the availability of high-speed free Wi-Fi internet facility at 6,100 railway stations across the country. The milestone of 6,100 stations with Wi-Fi coverage was reached with the commissioning of Wi-Fi facility at Ubarni railway station (Rae Bareli district, Uttar Pradesh) over Lucknow division of Northern Railways.

With this, RailTel has achieved close to 100 per cent coverage (except the halt stations) and only a few stations are left. RailTel is providing state- of- the- art public Wi-Fi under the brand name of “RailWire” which is the retail broadband service of RailTel. The highlight of this project is that out of these 6,100 railway stations, more than 5,000 stations are in rural areas making Wi-Fi facility available at many far-flung stations across the country like several stations of North Eastern region and all the 15 stations of Kashmir Valley.

Envisaged in 2015 Rail Budget, the project of providing free Wi-Fi Internet facility at stations is one of the largest and fastest public Wi-Fi networks of the world and aims to convert the railway platform into a platform for digital inclusion.

Through videos and messages on social media, regular announcements, hoarding and banners at stations, Indian Railway has been promoting the usage of Wi-Fi facility by the rail users and passengers. RailWire Wi-Fi at Railway stations is available to any user who has a smartphone with working mobile connection for KYC considerations. To switch on the connection, passengers need to scan Wi-Fi options and choose RailWire. Once the browser takes the user to the RailWire portal, it will ask for a mobile number to which a one-time-password (OTP) will be sent. Once connected, the Wi-Fi connection will last for 30 minutes. This helps the rail passengers to stay connected and updated with information.

The Wi-fi is “free” for the first 30 minutes of usage every day at 1 mbps speed. For using the Wi-Fi facility further at “higher” speed beyond 30 minutes, the user needs to choose a plan with higher speed by paying a nominal fee. The plans vary from Rs 10/day (for 5 GB at 34 MBPS) to Rs 75/30 day (for 60 GB at 34 mbps) excluding GST. A number of payment options like net banking, wallet, credit card, etc. can be used to purchase plan online.

Commenting on the development, Puneet Chawla, chairman and managing director, RailTel, said, “RailTel is at the forefront of national digital transformation activities. The Wi-Fi internet facility at stations has become quite popular and useful especially at stations situated in rural areas. It is a crucial step for Prime Minister’s Digital India Mission as this Wi-Fi facility will go a long way in connecting the unconnected. This initiative of Indian Railway and RailTel has paved the way for the common Indian Railway traveller to reap the benefits of digital technology. RailTel has invested a significant amount of capital expenditure (CAPEX) in building this network and to monetise this we have launched paid Wi-Fi plan across all Wi-Fi stations after allowing first 30 minutes of free use. We are also going to monetise the network through advertisement-based revenue for which we intend to come out with an EoI shortly.”