Public Wi-Fi in India has the ability to capture 40 million new connected users by 2019, resulting in at least $20 billion being added to the country’s GDP, a joint report by Google and global research firm Analysys Mason said on 4 July.
The report noted that public Wi-Fi could play a key role in driving ubiquitous connectivity and digital inclusion in India.
“India is a big market for the next billion users. Wi-Fi is a huge focus area and opportunity in terms of connecting these users,” K. Suri, director, partnership, India, Next Billion Users, Google India, told reporters here.
“We have found that if users have free and fast access, it could make significant change to their lives and overall economic prosperity,” Suri added while releasing a joint study by Google and global research firm Analysys Mason.
Google has currently partnered with RailTel and Indian Railways to offer public Wi-Fi in railway stations, covering 400 stations with about 7.6 million monthly active Wi-Fi users.
“Public Wi-Fi will connect 40 million new users to the Internet by 2019 and that would translate into tangible benefits to GDP, by around $20 billion between 2017-19 and at least $10 billion per annum thereafter,” the study showed.
The report, titled “Accelerating connectivity through public Wi-Fi: Early lessons from the railway Wi-Fi project,” outlined an opportunity to develop a wider connectivity ecosystem with public Wi-Fi as a key component.
“By 2019, over 100 million users will spend an extra $3 billion annually on mobile broadband and handsets because of their experience of high-speed public Wi-Fi,” noted Ashwinder Sethi, principal consultant, Analysys Mason.
“This has direct implications on Wi-Fi ecosystem in the country, and indirect implications on the broader connectivity ecosystem, along with government, GDP and productivity,” he added.
The high-speed Wi-Fi network with uncapped bandwidth of 1 Gbit/s per station provides path-breaking digital experience to existing and new users alike.
Offered as a free utility service under the brand name “RailWire”, users have 30 minutes of free access to the Internet, in which they can on an average consume 350 MB of data per session.
“Currently, the public Wi-Fi has close to 8 million monthly active users, two-thirds of which are in a typically young age group. While 50 percent users access the Internet multiple times a day – 36 percent first time Wi-Fi users on the network,” Suri said.
“The most usage is of online videos streaming content and watching IPL, social networking, finance. Even with multiple users getting connected at the same time, the experience is seamless and fast, with no buffering,” the Google executive noted.
As part of the next billion users initiative, Google is now building on the success of RailTel project to expand the public Wi-Fi outside train stations, into Indian cities and around the world like Indonesia and Mexico, among others, Suri said.