Google, Facebook, Airtel and Reliance Jio to bid for rail Wi-Fi project
25 April 2018
Google, Facebook, Airtel and Reliance Jio are expected to bid for the biggest rail Wi-Fi spots project floated by Indian Railways, which promises advertisement sales revenue of about $2.5 billion by 2020.
Indian Railways is set to cover more than 7,700 rural railway stations in the country with Wi-Fi soon, in order to make internet available to the travelling public. Already, a large chunk of urban stations under A and A1 category have Wi-Fi.
RailTel Corporation of India (RailTel), a subsidiary of Indian Railways, has now invited tenders for covering 7,700 stations in the D, E and F categories. The Railways has around 8,500 stations across the country.
Railways is conducting a reverse auction where prices quoted by the bidders will decrease as they underbid one another to secure the project contract. The winning bidder can easily recover the cost from advertisement sales.
Six million people were already using the Wi-Fi services of RailTel through Railwire Fast Wi-Fi services till the end of 2017 and the extension of the services nationwide could increase the user base manifold over the next few years.
Advertisement sales revenue from such Wi-Fi spots could be as high as $2.5 billion by 2020 for the winning bidder, say industry analysts.
“Already, a large chunk of urban stations under A and A1 category have Wi-Fi. Now, RailTel Corporation of India (RailTel), a subsidiary of Indian Railways, has invited tenders for covering 7,700 stations in the D, E and F categories,” said an official. The Indian Railways has around 8,500 stations across the country.
Market estimates put global public Wi-Fi network at around $34 billion by 2020, with India with its ever-expanding user base accounting for $10 billion by then.
RailTel already has a tie-up with Google which now runs Wi-Fi spots in 400 A1 and A category stations.
While ‘RailWire’ has been able to connect millions of new users in Tier-II and Tier-III towns for free, it monetises Wi-Fi through advertisement revenues.
Reliance Jio, which has a plan to launch 1.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots across India, is eyeing a chunk of the railways project, sources said.