Over the past year, 100 million people in India have started using the internet for the first time, with the result that there are now more potential users there than any country in the world apart from China.
However, only 18% of India’s 1.2 billion population and 15% of households are able to get online.
The size of the emerging market has persuaded Google to invest in providing high-speed public wi-fi in 400 train stations. The company’s access and energy team will work with Indian Railways and RailTel, a company that provides internet services using a fibre network that runs alongside railway lines.
The internet giant wants to have the first 100 stations online by the end of 2016 with the remainder "following in quick succession".
Even with 100 stations online, wi-fi will become available to more than 10 million people who pass through them every day.
Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, wrote in his plog post earlier this week the the internet connection will be "many times faster than what most people in India have access to today" and will allow "travelers to stream a high definition video while they’re waiting, research their destination, or download some videos, a book or a new game for the journey ahead".
A map shows the first 100 stations that are to have high-speed Wi-Fi by the end of 2016 (Google)
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, commended Google’s plan during a recent visit to the company’s Californian headquarters. He said: "We are expanding our public wi-fi hotspots. We want to ensure that free wi-fi is not only there at airports, but also on our railway platforms."
Google launched the Indian Language Internet Alliance last year to create more local language content.
Top image: Sundar Pichai, Google chief executive, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Googleplex in California (Google)