RailTel has initiated a Wi-Fi monetisation project covering over 6,108 railway stations across India where free public Wi-Fi network has already been made available by the entity. For this project, Railtel has signed a five-year agreement with a consortium led by 3i InfoTech Limited. The other members of the consortium are Forensics Intelligence Surveillance and Security Technologies Private Limited (FISST) and Yellow Inc.

Under the contract, the revenue will be generated by monetising Wi-Fi footfalls in one of the world’s largest integrated public Wi-Fi networks through targeted advertisements and extending multimedia infotainment services for railway passengers. This is India’s first multi-year commercial agreement to monetise captive customers of public Wi-Fi network through collaborative efforts. With this, public Wi-Fi at railway stations is set to transform the digital experience of railway passengers.

As per the contract, the consortium will pay Rs 140 million per year or 40 per cent of the revenue earned (whichever is higher) to RailTel. Revenue will be largely led by advertising and supported by content/services-based revenue and the consolidated revenue potential from the project is expected to be upwards of Rs 2.5 billion over five-year period.

RailTel’s public Wi-Fi network is now available at 6,108 railway stations across India and records more than 1.1 million unique users per day. With this collaborative deal, station Wi-Fi is set to evolve the digital experience for Wi-Fi users.

In addition, 3i Infotech will be launching a mobile “Super App” to ease the logins, offer many infotainment subscriptions, increase traction with consumers many-fold and multiply user base which will provide the right platform to digital advertisers and marketers for mass-market, regional and hyperlocal advertisements. Super App aims to become one of the largest apps in terms of users, usage and time spent, in India. Multi-fold increase in uses and usage has the potential to attract tour planners and taxi aggregators to offer to passengers, going forward. The infotainment services of Super App are targeted to engage users beyond the railway stations through customised content packs, e-ticketing, railway-related information and other value-added services. Super App will also have the potential to bring railway passengers and railway operational units closer for day-to-day grievance management platform with measurable parameters apart from value-added digital services such as mapping of porters, food suppliers/aggregators, emergency medical services etc.

Further, under the contract, the consortium will also provide edge computing and edge analytics to provide greater flexibility and opportunity to fine-tune the contents and advertisements. 

Commenting on the development, Sanjai Kumar, chairman and managing director (MD), RailTel, said, “This public-private partnership on Wi-Fi network monetisation will truly transform the railway passengers’ experience, providing customers a differentiated digital experience. Moreover, it will provide an opportunity for advertisers to tap into RailTel’s widespread integrated public Wi-Fi network at railway stations with the largest footfall of Wi-Fi users in the country to deliver customised services and content. This move will also aid to the cause of the government of India’s Digital India mission. It will also help RailTel to enhance its revenue stream.” 

Meanwhile, Thompson P. Gnanam, MD and global chief executive officer (CEO), 3i Infotech, said, “It is going to be an important partnership with RailTel. This is a landmark moment for us and railway passengers, with the sheer scale of digital enablement this project is aimed at. This project is a strategic fit towards expanding our edge computing capabilities. Edge application is the Super App which will be developed by us for the Wi-Fi monetisation project. We hope to get good patronage from advertisers and marketers.”