What you need to know
- Google has decided to shut down its "Google Station" program.
- As part of the program, Google offered free Wi-Fi in over 400 railway stations in India and other public places worldwide.
- The search giant says it had become difficult for it to find a sustainable business model and scale the program.
The Google Station program, which was launched in 2015 to bring free Wi-Fi to India's railway stations, will be discontinued this year. In addition to more than 400 railway stations in India, the Google Station program currently provides free Wi-Fi in "thousands" of other locations across the world.
Google told TechCrunch that it has decided to shut down the program as mobile data prices in several markets, including India, have dropped significantly, making the program "unnecessary." That isn't the only reason, however. Google says it had become a challenge for it to find a sustainable business model to scale the program.
Even though Google Station will be shutting down later this year, RailTel, which partnered with Google to provide free Wi-Fi in the 400 odd railway stations across India, has confirmed that it will continue to offer the free service at those stations. In South Africa, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider that its operations will be transferred to Think Wifi, who will now carry out the project independently.
While Google may have failed to find a sustainable business model for Station, the program proved to be quite popular among users. Google had announced in June 2018 that it had 8 million Station users, with over half of them connecting to the service multiple times a day. Apart from India, the Google Station program is currently available in Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, and Nigeria.