24 April 2020
Google has announced that it will shut down the Station WiFi program in India and around the world throughout 2020. It is currently working with partners on a smooth transition of existing websites so that they can continue to be useful for the community. It has also offered reasons for deciding to shut down the program that was kicked off in 2016.
As per the blog post, Google believes that it has become a lot simpler and cheaper to go online in India as compared to the times when the program was started. Caesar Sengupta, VP of Payments and Next Billion Users at Google, added that even mobile data plans have become a lot more affordable. In other words, the ultimate goal of making the internet accessible to masses has more or less been achieved in these five years regardless of it being due to Stations or by other means.
Sengupta further said that it has become difficult to scale Station and make it sustainable due to "the challenge of varying technical requirements and infrastructure among our partners across countries". This is another reason that the team has finally agreed upon pulling the plug on the program and focus on other areas where they can make a valuable impact.
Google Station program was announced in India in 2016 with the goal of providing free, fast, and reliable WiFi connections to people in public places. Google teamed up with Indian Railways and Railtel to offer these WiFi hotspots at 400 busiest railway stations in the country. It was able to reach the target in 2018 when it added WiFi connectivity to the Dibrugarh, Assam railway station.