Google Station was a free Wi-Fi service that launched in India in 2015. The initial plan was to support 400 stations across the country. Later, Google Station spread out to more countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa. It had more than 5,000 locations in its network.
The project was part of Google's Next Billion Users initiative, aiming to provide access to internet and web technologies to new users, mainly from less developed regions.
Google announced their decision to discontinue the project in February 2020. They felt the service was no longer needed nor sustainable, and the Next Billion Users initiative could focus on other projects.
When Google initially started the project, Indian data prices were substantially high, and not many people could afford access to the internet. However, a year after Stations launched, a new telecom network, Reliance Jio, appeared on the market. They offered free 4G data to customers for an extended period. That forced other providers to lower their prices.
Furthermore, the telecom provider RailTel, Google Station’s partner in India, developed their own software and expanded the Wi-Fi service across more than 5,600 rail stations, so they didn’t need Google’s help anymore.
Finally, Google had a hard time establishing a sustainable business model for the project. They even tried monetizing it by making users watch an ad when they first connected for a session. Eventually, they decided to withdraw from the project.
Users in India were assured that RailTel would continue to support the service on all stations. Similarly, Google’s previous partner in South Africa, Think Wifi, announced they were taking over and would support the service in all the established locations.