Google will heavily invest in India, to Wi-Fi 400 Railway Stations: Sundar Pichai

Google announces its India plans: Free WiFi from January, training for 2 million developers, Project Loon; Mumbai Central station will be the first to go live, by January 2016. Google will build a new campus, and ramp up engineering presence in Hyderabad to make products for India; it will also up hiring in Bengaluru, and help women from three lakh villages across India to get online in three years.

New Delhi: In his first overseas visit after taking over as the chief of Google Inc, Sundar Pichai made a strong statement about the importance India will play in the overall strategy of the company in the future. Pichai said that Google will invest heavily in not just enabling Internet access in the country but also in making sure that great products are developed in India.

“It makes a lot of sense to invest in India as what we build here will have global usage,” the Chennai-born Pichai said while addressing a Google for India conference on Wednesday. Pichai gave examples of products such as MapMaker, Youtube offline, streamline search etc, which were developed for India and are now widely used globally.

To tap into the strong developer community in India further, Google is launching a programme to train 2 million developers on its Android platform over the next three years through a partnership with the National Skill development Corporation of India, said Pichai. While outlining his vision for the country, he said that going forward it will be based on bringing more and more people online, creating products that provide information which the people here want and making sure that users don’t use use the Internet to consume content but also “add their voice back by creating, uploading and sharing content,” he said.

Earlier this year Google announced a project to connect 400 Railway stations in the country through Wi-Fi along with RailTel. Pichai said that the project is on track and the first 100 stations will be connected by the end of 2016 and Google is currently running a pilot at the Mumbai Central station which is expected to go live by January next year.

“We are also exploring ways to make the Google Loon project work in India,” said Pichai. The company has sent a proposal to the government of India to float balloons over the Indian airspace that will provide Internet connectivity to the hard to access rural areas. However, the project is currently awaiting clearance from several Indian ministries. Pichai also talked about another initiative where rural women will be given bicycles and by Google to reach out to other women in nearby areas to help them come online. For this initiative, Google has tied up with Tata Trust and is currently running it in 1,000 villages. Pichai said the aim is to scale it up to 3,00,000 villages over the next three years.

Also in the offing are local language support for Google product s such as Android, Maps and Youtube to make sure that a large population of the country which is non-English speaking also comes onboard the world wide web.


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