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Public Wi-fi in India to Connect 40 Million New Users to Internet by 2019: Google Report

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Public Wi-fi in India can reach 40 million new users in India by 2019, adding $20 billion to the country’s GDP, according to recent report. Around 100 million people would spend an additional $2-3 billion per year on handsets and a similar amount on cellular mobile broadband services, the report by Analysys Mason, commissioned by Google, said on July 4.

“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, said while releasing the report, titled Accelerating connectivity through public Wi-fi: Early lessons from the railway Wi-fi project. “We have found that if users have free and fast access, it could make a significant change to their lives and overall economic prosperity,” he added, IANS reported.

Google is now planning to expand its public Wi-fi service to areas beyond railway stations in India. The company is in talks with telecom operators, internet service providers (ISPs) and state governments to launch its service in public spaces such as malls, cafes and universities, the Economic Times reported.

Google earlier launched a partnership with RailTel and Indian Railways, that offers public Wi-fi at 400 railway stations in the country, reaching about 7.6 million monthly active users. The free utility service allows a user to access the Internet for free for 30 minutes, during which they can consume about 350 MB of data.

“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 per cent users access the Internet multiple times a day, 36 percent are first time Wi-fi users on the network,” the news agency quoted Suri as saying.

The Wi-fi service is mostly accessed by users for online streaming of video content and watching events like the IPL cricket tournament. The other major consumption is for accessing social networking platforms, purchasing tickets and checking finance websites, according to the report. However, despite strong growth in the Internet user base (316 million at the end of 2017), mobile broadband penetration remained low in the country, at 31 percent, the Hindu reported.

Google is now taking its public Wi-fi model from India to other countries, such as Indonesia and Mexico, the report added.