Kolkata (KOAA): Folks travelling through the busy railway stations of Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Agra, Mumbai CST, Howrah and Secunderabad will soon have access to Wi-Fi services, allowing them to surf the Internet, check e-mail and use mobile apps. Sistema Shyam Teleservices, donning its hat as an Internet service provider for the first time, has teamed up with the Indian Railways to launch Wi-Fi services at the key railway stations, a top executive aware of the matter told. Field trials are currently under way.
To start with, Sistema Shyam, the Indian unit of Russia’s Sistema JSFC, will offer Wi-Fi services free for 30 minutes to gauge the response at these stations, which have some of the heaviest commuter traffic. The service will eventually be rolled out commercially under the MTS brand. Travellers at any of these stations will be able to access the Internet on their smartphones, laptops or notebooks.
After activating Wi-Fi on their devices, they will be taken to a page christened Indian Railways MTS Wi-Fi, from where they can go online, the official said. The company is expected to offer Wi-Fi services at other key railway junctions in the coming months, but more details are under wraps.
Atop company executive said the pact is in response to the Narendra Modi government’s plan to create Wi-Fi zones in India’s busiest stations, as outlined in the railway budget. The company is likely to draw on its experience of offering free Wi-Fi services in all Rapid Metro trains in Gurgaon.
A Sistema Shyam spokesman confirmed the Wi-Fi services pact with the railways, adding that the company had concluded all regulatory formalities for acquiring a pan-India category-A ISP permit.
Sistema Shyam will offer Wi-Fi services at some railway stations in circles where the company does not run CDMA-based mobile services under its MTS brand.
Analysts at PwC expect India to see a spurt in Wi-Fi hotspots, driven by “the government’s smart cities and Digital India as well as private sector initiatives”.