Starting from the 22nd of August, 2016, hundreds of thousands of commuters using the suburban railway network in and around Mumbai will have access to free Wi-Fi service at seven stations — four of them on the Western and three on the Central line. The service will be available at its highest speed for the initial 30 minutes, and after that, the speed will decrease. Suresh Prabhu, the union railway minister, is said to inaugurate the service for Churchgate, Dadar (Western/Central), Bandra Terminus, Bandra, Khar, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) and Kalyan on Monday.
In order to access this service, smartphone users will have to register their mobile numbers on the page of the private telecom operator. After this they will receive a one-time password (OTP) through SMS. The OTP needs to be entered on the login page. After the password is entered the user will be allowed free access to the service. However, the speed will reduce once the user passes the 30-minute mark.
The railways intend to charge users for using the service after the consumption of the free bandwidth. The payment modalities haven’t been worked out yet. A railway official requesting anonymity said, “So far, we are not charging users for Wi-Fi, but the speed will reduce.”
Khar resident Rohit Desi said stating the importance of such a development, “It’s good that the railways are adding this service.” Globally, free Wi-Fi has been made available in a lot of places. This includes malls, railway stations, and restaurants.
The union minister will also be inaugurating an air-conditioned dormitory at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) along with other things such as foot-over-bridges (FOBs) at Reay Road, Kurla, Kings Circle, (Kasaiwada), Karjat, Chembur, and Shahad. The new station building at Borivli will be equipped with a booking counter, and there will be a deck area at north-end Goregaon, with the ticketing facility, is said to allow faster dispersal of commuters.
Compared to the technologies made available by the governments in other countries such as Singapore, this initiative by the Indian government may seem like baby steps but, they are steps forward, nonetheless. The recent developments, especially in the railways are a part of the Digital India campaign by the PM. Often accused of not being omnipresent, Narendra Modi expressed his vision of a digital India, and this seems to be a part of the ploy. How much good it does, is only for time to tell.