RailTel-Google creates Information Super-Highway – Jointly Establish Wi-Fi Hotspots in 400 Railway Stations

RailTel-Google WiFi projWi-Fi Hotspots Project undertaken by RailTel in association with Google is almost complete at more than 18 Railway Stations across India, out of the total of 400 Railway Stations identified by Ministry of Railways which were also declared as Smart Railway Stations by the Ministry.

New Delhi: Indian Railways and Google has joined forces to create India’s largest network of free WiFi across 400 railway stations, pan India.

As per the details obtained, first 30 minutes of this service would enable high speed Internet, after which the speed will drop, but the connection remains active.

This special partnership has been named as ‘Project Nilgiri’; and aims to use Google Fiber technology to provide high speed Internet service.

Typical Network Architecture for Wi-Fi Network at a Railway StationBut the masterstroke which Google has played this time is their partnership with RailTel, to access infrastructure and platform. Indian Railways had announced earlier that they are working on a plan to provide WiFi based Internet across 400 railway stations. But now, the plan looks concrete.

Indian Railways in association with RailTel has currently undertaken a pilot project in association with Google under the code name of ‘Project Nilgiri’ under which in phase 1 we will be setting up Wi-Fi hotspots at approximately 400 stations across India over a span of 4 months from now,” said a source requesting anonymity.

RailTel Corporation of India is a public sector unit, having massive access to connectivity and infrastructure. As of now, RailTel’s network passes through 5000 railway stations across India, connecting 63,500 kms of railway track!

RailTel’s optical fiber cable has already been laid across 32,500 kms pan-India; work is in progress for 29,500 kms. As per Wikipedia, RailTel has “state of the art multimedia telecom network using SDH/DWDM-based transmission systems and high end routers for MPLS-IP network.”

The Wi-Fi work has already been executed at Sealdah, Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Patna Jn., Raipur, Ranchi, Jaipur, Lucknow (NR), Lucknow Jn. (NER), Hazrat Nizamuddin, Allahabad, Gorakhpur Jn., Ernakulam Jn., Kacheguda, Vijayawada, Mumbai Central (Main), Pune and Bhopal Railway Stations

Typical Network for Dual Homing of Access SwitchesAnd the best part is that, DoT has already allocated 2.7 GHz band to RailTel for launching broadband and other Internet based services.

Last year, we had reported that Google Fiber may enter in India, promising a dream-come-true speed of 1 GBPS, something which is unheard in India. Reports emerged that Telangana Govt. may roll out Google Fiber services in the state as well. But the biggest problem is licenses for becoming an ISP in India, and Google may not agree to pay billions of dollars for the same. However, after their association with RailTel, the licensing problem may be taken care of; and actual broadband along all the railway tracks and railway stations may now be provided.

Existing ISPs in India like Airtel, Tata DoCoMo and Reliance may find this news somewhat disturbing; as Google and RailTel can make some serious inroads with such a huge infrastructure coverage and technology. This is certainly one of those path-breaking moments for the Indian traveler and Internet user.

Execution Methodology of Wi-Fi Network at Railway Stations by RailTel and Google:

Fiber Switches of make D-Link DGS-3000-28SC were provided by RailTel for deploying at each Foot Over Bridge, Concourse areas and other strategic locations for Platform and Stations Coverage to provide Wi-Fi access.  All fiber switches are inducted into the master ring of fiber switches as per site topography/ requirement and in the Network, all fiber-switches are connected in a ring configuration pattern. The Fiber Switches have been aggregated on the Aggregator Switches (Juniper ACX 2200 Routers) which are supplied and installed by RailTel in its POP locations. RailTel have provisioned dual ACX 2200 Routers for every station which are dual homed with MPLS Routers.  Access switches are PoE enabled and connected to the Fiber switches using fiber and located broadly as detailed in the diagram above, in STAR configuration with the Fiber Switch.  For platform lengths of more than 700 mtrs, a total of 6 nos. of Access Switches were considered. For coverage in concourse areas near the station platforms, APs are connected to the Access Switch collocated with the Fiber switch.

Google have supplied and installed Access Points (Radio) of Cisco Make (IWE 3702) which were PoE enabled and connected to Access Switches using Cat 6 cables (maximum distance should not be more than 90m).  Google supplied 2 nos. of Access Points connected to a Access Switch and depending on the necessity, Google have supplied additional POE Switch in the same rack, alongwith the UPS supplied and installed by Google for uninterrupted Power Supply at each of the Platform/Concourse. Platform UPS are collocated with the Fiber Switch on the Platforms / Foot over Bridges. Overall, Google have supplied Racks for Fiber Switches, Access Switches, Cat-6 Cable for wiring of Access Points from Access Switches and UPS for Fiber Switch and Access Switch, and the POE enabled Access Points and then installed Access Switch racks, APs, laying and connecting of Cat-6 Cables between Access Switches and APs.

RailTel have supplied Fiber Switches and Access Switches and have installed the Fiber Racks supplied by Google and bifurcated the work into two phases – viz. in Phase-I, RailTel have installed the Fiber Racks, UPS, commissioning of Fiber switch ring and connecting UPS Supply to power up Fiber Switches.  In the Phase-II, as per the cable route plan drawings, installed Access Switches in POE racks, which were supplied and installed by Google and provided Optical Fiber connectivity between Fiber and Access switches using BiDi SFPs.  Every Access switch is dual homed with two fiber switches.  The UPS supply is extended to Access Switches.

In fact, Google had already connected on RailTel backbone with 10GE longhaul for peering at Chennai and Mumbai for which the working paths are via. Hyderabad and Bangalore routes. The current Wi-Fi project is one of the long term projects both the companies are mutually going to work.