Google will be collaborating with companies including IBM, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and RailTel to provide Wi-Fi services in Pune as part of the smart city project. To facilitate the project, Google will be deploying its Google Station platform, which features a Wi-Fi network management capability and focuses on providing seamless connectivity at all public places. This will make Pune the first city in the world to get Google Station.

For this project, Google will be working with the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL). Without divulging details about timeframe for the rollout, a Google spokesperson told BGR India that the company is now looking to expand its Wi-Fi services to more locations in the country.

“With the goal of creating a great Internet for the next billion users, we have found that making high-quality public Wi-Fi more easily accessible can play a critical role in bringing the benefits of Internet to millions of Indians. We believe that Google Station, can help ISPs, venue operators, and city governments quickly and reliably deploy high speed internet, ” the spokesperson further said in a statement.

Google Station is essentially a platform that gives organizations/partners an easy set of tools to roll out Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. Google Station provides software and guidance on hardware to turn fiber connections into fast, reliable and safe Wi-Fi zones. At users’ end, the login process is simple and unified, which makes it easier for venues to manage their networks.

PSCDCL is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which consists of seven stakeholders and 15 directors collaborating on the smart city mission. An ETreport notes that the latest contract with Google is valued at Rs 150 crore and includes capital expenditure, operating expenditure and revenue sharing elements. Pune Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar told the publication that 15 -20 percent of revenue generated through this city-wide Wi-Fi network will be shared with the authority.

Under the contract, the companies will be utilizing their technology prowess to put together a city-wide Wi-Fi network that also helps them make money through advertisements. RailTel will provide last-mile fiber connectivity to enable Wi-Fi hotspots at around 200 strategic locations across the city of Pune. L&T is the master system integrator for the Pune Smart City project and will help integrate all the elements together. It will also set up emergency call boxes and public address systems, environmental sensors, network connectivity and video analytics integration.

IBM, on the other hand, is providing smart city solutions along with helping L&T set up a Smart City Operation Center (SCOC) to integrate all the services and applications on a single platform, which will be able to accommodate all future needs through integration of various citizen-centric applications. It will integrate 49 applications, the report notes.

Meanwhile, Google will be working with RailTel and L&T on variable message displays for advertising purpose. The displays will be used to deliver important information across 161 locations in city.  

It is worth mentioning that Google and RailTel are already collaborating on the project to install free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country’s railway stations. So far, the companies have been able to install such high-speed hotspots at over 100 stations. With its collaboration with a city corporation, Google is extending its Wi-Fi service beyond railway stations to other public places such as malls, cafes, universities, etc for the first time.

Google’s first city-based Wi-Fi deal comes on the heels of other tech companies exploring opportunities to monetize on the country’s huge user base hungry for seamless and affordable internet connectivity. Facebook has already started testing its Express Wi-Fi service in the country. The company is working with carriers, internet service providers and local entrepreneurs to help expand internet access to rural regions. Meanwhile, Reliance Jio is also working on fiber optics -based broadband service which aims to offer high-speed broadband speeds at 1Gbps. – BGR