After two years of offering free high-speed Internet at select railway stations in India, Google has started the test of a paid model of the Google Station program. The program was piloted at Mumbai Central in January 2016 and was officially launched in partnership with RailTel at 53 railway stations. It would reach around 400 stations this year. The initial model of Google was monetized by ads, and with the latest move, Google has monetized its service in a different way.
The Google Station program in Mumbai charges Rs. 19 for high-speed Internet access for 24 hours. The premium option offers unlimited data. Default free option reduces the data speed after 30 minutes of use. The free option is also provided with an ad that appears on the login page.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that currently a paid offer is being tested, although there will always be a free option. He also added that the long-term goal for RailTel was to make it self-sustainable and a paid model is an essential part of it.
Google Station Program bought together a huge base under its purview due to its free model. Caesar Sengupta, Google’s Next Billion Users (NBU) Vice President has thrown light on the fact that over 7.5 million users avail Internet access through Google Station in India.
The present count of people who access Internet through Google Station is at 227 stations across India, with a total of 22 stations that went live last month. With this, all set and done, the project is ready to target the milestone of 400 stations, which were indicated by Google for the end of this year. Google is also on the verge of partnering with new ISPs in order to expand the program beyond railway stations. Future plans would be rolled out in order to bring the high-speed Internet model to educational institutions and universities.