India will provide free internet access at 500 railway stations with Google's assistance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a gathering of top Silicon Valley CEOs in the US.
"We are expanding our public Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we want to ensure that free Wi Fi is not only there in airport lounges, but also on our railway platforms. Teaming up with Google, we will cover 500 railway stations in a short time," Modi, who was speaking at the Digital India conference at San Jose (California), said.
However, the PM did not give a time-frame for implementation.
Last December, Indian Railways had rolled out free Wi-Fi facility at New Delhi railway station, one of the busiest in the country. The service, which will be free for the first 30 minutes, would be available to passengers on all 16 platforms at the railway station. New Delhi handles over 300 trains and more than five lakh daily passengers.
The project is being implemented by RailTel, a railway Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) that has also been assigned to provide the service at other 'A1â€² and 'A' category stations in India.
RailTel also has plans to unveil similar services in Dadar & CST in Mumbai, Thane, Chennai Central and Trivandrum Central, among other cities. In April 2013, it had rolled out free Wi-Fi services on New Delhi- Howrah Rajdhani Express.
Broadband in villages & m-governance
Modi also envisaged an aggressive expansion of the National Optical Fibre Network to take broadband to 600,000 villages.
"We will connect all schools and colleges with broadband. Building i-ways are as important as highways," Modi said.
Further, Modi said that mobile-led governance or m-governance would be pivotal to make development an all-inclusive experience.
"That is the way to go in a country with one billion cell phones and use of smart phones growing at high double digit rates. It has the potential to make development a truly inclusive and comprehensive mass movement. It puts governance within everyone's reach," Modi added.
The PM met CEOs of leading American technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Adobe, Qualcomm and others. He will be in the US till September 29.
India will play a big part in driving technology forward in the future, Google CEO Sunder Pichai said today and praised PM Modi for accelerating India's effort to become the next global hot bed of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Driving technology forward would really improve people's lives in India and all around the world, Pichai said.
"I am not just excited because I grew up in India, I am excited because I deeply care about technology and know that I India will play a big part in its future," he said, adding that a lot of that is becoming possible because Modi is driving it forward.
"He (Modi) has accelerated India's effort to become next global hot bed of innovation and entrepreneurship," Pichai told the gathering of top Silicon Valley CEOs.
More importantly, Modi understands that technology is an enabler to drive change at a massive scale, the kind of scale that India needs, he added.
The 43-year-old IIT alumnus said it is not just being on line, it is about what you get online.
"People are educating themselves, connecting with loved ones and creating and sharing videos. For example on YouTube, there are many home makers in India who make a living by posting videos on line," he said.
There are more than 3,000 startups in India.