Imagining the services for (much talked about) WIFI enabled railway stations in India

In a much publicized US visit of the honorable PM, Narendra Modi, a variety of initiatives had taken a considerable step. One of them and perhaps the most publicized one was enabling India’s 500 railway station with wireless internet connection. This initiative has got lot of applaud as well as criticism. However, one thing on the radar of many startups and established IT firms would be leverage the potential of internet connectivity at railway stations.

free_wifi

(This is a representative image adapted from thehindu.com)

Let us first briefly understand the larger user base it could form – First, the wifi is free for initial 30 minutes and expected to charge 25 Rs for next 30 minutes and 35 Rs for one hour. It is believed that it will benefit 10 million users who will be traveling everyday for different purposes. There would be different user segments such as daily commuters, travelers, less frequent (but higher numbers than travelers) commuters and just passer by (who would use the opportunity of free wifi, but not travel). These user segment consists of people from different educational and technology literacy, languages and different region-religion and socio-cultural backgrounds. Catering to these diverse audiences would be a challenge for service providers, however opens interesting opportunities for service providers to intervene. Here are few of them:

  1. Contextually relevant advertisements for commuters – imagine a local chaiwala advertising his “world’s best chai” on your mobile phone, why not have a tea till you wait for your train
  2. Intelligent and user preferred local services – you added “startup sutra” on your wishlist on Amazon, why wait to order? Buy it immediately just a minute away (just besides where you are standing)
  3. Local and physical social network – have you seen group travels in local trains of Mumbai? Imagine a service that could gather people with similar interests, workplace, areas and so on!
  4. Dating services – free for 30 minutes?? Lets find a suitable match whom you can meet immediately
  5. Free internet beyond 30 minutes – someone with multiple mobile phones (and wifi hotspots) could help you access wifi beyond 30 minutes at cheaper rates – may be extra 5 Rs for additional 30 minutes!

I believe that 80% of commuters would use free wifi and not extend to paid services. What can you give in 30 minutes which can be used for another 1 hour 30 minutes of empty travel time?

The possibilities are endless. It is now, who-when-where and how you grab the opportunity to access 10 million commuters everyday. Trust me, it has huge potential market, not even e-commerce has 10 million users everday

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