Google has decided to close the Station program, the goal of which was to develop free Wi-Fi around the world.
The reason for the closure of the program opened in 2015 is the lack of a sustainable business model to continue the development of the project. The problem is that the mobile Internet is gradually becoming cheaper around the world, therefore, there is simply no need for this Google project. Also, it isn't very easy for companies to adapt to varying technical requirements in different countries.
Since 2016, as a part of the Google program, the company has connected free Wi-Fi at more than 400 railway stations in India jointly with the state-owned company Indian Railways. At that time, the Internet was too expensive in India, so Station helped millions of people use it without restrictions.
But a year later, Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, launched his telecommunications network Reliance Jio. For a long time, it offered free access to the 4G Internet, which is why other telecom operators were forced to lower their tariffs. It did not prevent the spread of the Google project, but its meaninglessness only increased every year.
However, in June 2018, the number of Station users in India reached 8 million per month. Further, the project expanded to other public places around the world: Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, and the Philippines. Over the past few years, the company has also tried to monetize the Station: for example, it showed ads when a user connected to the Internet.
Now Google says that they are working with partners to transform existing stations – they will remain the working tools that society needs, but they will transfer this program to partner operators. For example, RailTel will support them in India and Think Wi-Fi will do the same in South Africa.
Google will discontinue further development of Station around the world during 2020.