GOOGLE WINDS DOWN ITS FREE Wi-Fi PROGRAM
The free Wi-Fi program takes a twist as Google winds down the station service across over 400 railway stations in India. Meanwhile, Google Station’s website claim that the service is currently accessible in South Africa, Brazil, Africa most populous and economic country – Nigeria, Mexico, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Stating the Station program will be wound down globally this year.
Prior to this development, the tech giant had intended to explore ways to monetize Google Station program. This was figured out with advert shows that are displayed when a user signed in to connect to its internet service. But on the other hand, it’s also important we figure out some of the potential reasons why Google is shutting down Google Station.
The Vice President of Payment and Next Billion Users at Google ‘Caesar Sengupta’ in his response said, the program, launched in 2015, helped millions of users surf the internet, first time for many, and not worry about the amount of data they consumed. But as mobile data prices got cheaper in many markets including India, Google Station was no longer as necessary. It became necessary as the company plans to discontinue the program this year.
The tech giant in its explanation made it clear it took the decision to end the program based on the fact that it was becoming difficult to scale up and make it a sustainable business. Google had worked with different partners in each country where it offered the station service, with each offering different technical and infrastructural requirements. In South Africa for example, where the service was launched late last year, it worked with Think WiFi, while in India it worked with RailTel, Pune Smart City, and Indian Railways.
Confirming the company’s decision with its partners, it was noted as Google winds down, RailTel which delivers Wi-Fi to more than 5,600 railway stations, currently has the capability to offer its own service. A spokesperson said, “We are working with our partners to transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community”.
Over the years it is evident a good number of people have developed a great appetite to consume large data, but isn’t the reason why Google is winding down its program, particularly in India. Google’s initial intent was to device means to scale Stations to more markets, but it’s also understood, the tech giant had reached its goal.
On the other hand, a year after Google’s service was launched in India, Indian richest man ‘Mukesh Ambani’ launched Reliance Jio, a telecom network which offered customers bulk of 4G data for free for a good period of time, which in the process, forced other telecom operators to slash their charges. The move ushered millions of Indian citizens to the internet, access which was practically too expensive for many eventually became accessible for the first time.
Elsewhere in South Africa, a Google spokesperson confirmed to business insider, that it will be transferring operations to its partner Think WiFi, “who will now carry out the project independently”. Think WiFi has confirmed that “free WiFi is here to stay” in its locations.
Google isn’t the only tech company to have tried to offer free internet service to users in developing markets, Facebook’s internet.org project tried but was banned in 2017 based on the regulatory violation.
- What is your take as Google winds down on free WiFi?