Google has had a hand in expanding free, fast internet access in developing countries through its Station program. By teaming up with local ISPs, the search giant has been able to fund hundreds of public Wi-Fi hotspots in nine countries. But today, the company has decided to wrap up the scheme in some countries.
In posts to its Indian, Latin American, and Thai blogs, Google said that the company has found Stations difficult to scale up. Plus, since the scheme was launched in 2015, consumer wireless service has gotten better and cheaper and more businesses are filling the gaps with free Wi-Fi anyways.
"India, specifically now has among the cheapest mobile data per GB in the world," Google India's blog reads, "with mobile data prices having reduced by 95% in the last 5 years..."
The company has communicated that it would be transitioning hotspot operations over to its local partners in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam. TechCrunch and TechCentral have confirmed that partners RailTel in India and Think WiFi in South Africa will carry through — Stations had only launched in that country just three months ago.
Google has other projects to improve connectivity and productivity in developing areas through its Next Billion Users initiative and sidecars such as balloon-distributed cellular service Loon.