Mark Zuckerberg is a man of his word. Even after the debacle of his much ambitious internet.org in India, Facebook’s founder hasn’t forgotten about his mission to bring the entire world closer through the power of Internet. He is now back in the arena with another project called OpenCellular, an open source wireless platform that desires to improve the wireless connectivity in remote areas. In fact, the social networking giant is also very soon expected to announce about its plans to bring internet connectivity across Indian railway stations, via Wi-Fi hotspots.
Facebook has been doing some rigorous research work on its this initiative lately, and has even done a pilot across 125 rural locations for the same. It has even begun its negotiations with a number of internet firms in the effort to expand its Wi-Fi service in India.
According to the latest update on the news, Facebook is now in the midst of locking in a tie up deal with Indian Railways so as to deliver good-quality Wi-Fi access across the Indian railway stations.
While Facebook has neither confirmed the news, nor denied it, RailTel’s chairman RK Bahuguna has confirmed that RailTel was recently approached by the social networking giant for the Wi-Fi initiative.
According to him, Facebook is contemplating expanding its Wi-Fi coverage beyond railway stations to nearby villages as well, and that RailTel is very much positive about the initiative. The project could bring data services up to a 10km radius from a connected railway station, and this range could further be expanded up to a good 25km via additional access points, said Bahuguna.
While Facebook’s initiative is for sure very progressive, it is still not a fresh idea. Tech giant Google had already announced a similar initiative last year during the much-hyped Narendra Modi’s visit to the Silicon Valley. Google had pledged to launch free Wi-Fi services in 400 railway stations by the year 2017, in partnership with RailTel. In fact, the service is already functional in some 19 Indian railways station and is being accessed by more than 1.5 million people.
In a country with 1.3 billion people, of which only about 300 million people have access to internet, such initiatives from Google and Facebook are most welcome, in fact much needed.