India may be rapidly building up its reputation as a tech-savvy country, but there are still hundreds of millions of people in the country who've had little to no experience with the internet. Google may have a clever solution to that problem, however. It's installing WiFi (initially for free) in 400 train stations across India, with 100 of the busiest stations due to get online by the end of 2016. The hope is that this will connect the 10 million people who pass through India's train system every day, letting them experience the web even if they'd otherwise have no access at all. And it's not basic data, either. Google is promising speeds good enough to stream HD video and otherwise outclass what many Indians are familiar with.
Of course, this isn't strictly an altruistic gesture... it's also a response to competition. Microsoft teased plans to bring cheap broadband to 500,000 Indian villages just a day before Google's announcement, and Facebook has its own ongoing free internet program. Google is racing to capture the attention of first-time internet users, and the tech industry at large profits when more people are viewing ads and using cloud services. Moreover, this could help curry the favor of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Silicon Valley this weekend -- important when officials are worried that Google is abusing its search dominance. Still, it's hard to knock an effort that could improve the quality of life in one of the most populous countries on the planet.