VIBHUTI SINGH (29) had dreaded the nearly two-hour wait at Mumbai Central railway station from where he was to board a train with his family for Delhi in April. He had a tough task ensuring his children did not become restless and bored waiting for the train. He soon remembered news he had read about the Mumbai Central railway station being Wi-Fi-enabled since January.
“I quickly switched on my phone wi-fi and entered the One Time Password (OTP) I received as SMS after entering my phone number on the internet page. Soon my phone was connected to the platform Wi-Fi and to my pleasant surprise, it was a high speed internet with nearly 10mbps speed. I quickly went to YouTube and played cartoons for my children thereby easily whiling away two hours,” Singh said. “I was really impressed with the facility,” he added.
While Mumbai Central was the first railway station to be Wi-Fi-enabled, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday inaugurated free Wi-Fi set up in collaboration with Google for lakhs of rail commuters at seven railway stations on the suburban line. Commuters will be able to access free Wi-Fi service on seven railway stations, Churchgate, Dadar, Bandra, Bandra Terminus, Khar, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) and Kalyan. As per officials, the users will be able to use internet at high-speed for the first half an hour after which speed will subsequently drop. To access the service, one has to enter one’s mobile number on the private telecom operator’s page. Following this, they receive an OTP which needs to be entered on the login page.
Merwin D’Costa, 27, a resident of Chakala area of Andheri, who takes a train from Churchgate everyday, says he plans to download YouTube videos, which he will watch during the train journey from Churchgate to Andheri. “After a point of time you run out of movies to watch on mobile phones. With free Wi-Fi, I can access videos on YouTube,” D’Costa said.
The Wi-Fi facility at Mumbai Central station launched on July 23, the first Wi-Fi-enabled station in the country, has, however, faced its share of criticism as well.
Several persons used social platforms tagging the railway minister with their grievances. One Shabbir Sakharwala tweeted on June 29, “The Wi-Fi at Mumbai central station does not work at all, can raise this matter to the concern.”
Apart from this project, legislator Jitendra Awhad had set up Wi-Fi routers outside Mumbra and Kalwa railway stations to ensure commuters get access to free Wi-Fi. The initiative soon fizzled out with the network being poor and commuters not being able to access internet services on these railway platforms. An official from Railtel that handles the Wi-Fi facility at railway stations, said that apart from rare glitches due to technical problems, they have managed to ensure uninterrupted Wi-Fi. “We have received a good response from commuters so far,” the official said.