India is home to 200 million Internet users. While this number might sound large, it accounts for only 16 percent of the total population of the country. In a bid to provide free last-mile Internet connectivity in India, HT reports that Microsoft India is seeking approvals to deploy a project that will enable Internet connectivity using White Space spectrum that is currently used for television transmission by Doordarshan. Microsoft is seeking permission to initiate a pilot project in two districts after which it will be rolled out across the country. Also Read - Xbox Series X restock in India possible by early August, no news on Series S
It provides wireless connectivity across a 10km radius, a much larger area than the typical routers set up for commercial use today, and speeds of up to 16 Mbps, eight times faster than what is generally available in most parts of India. This technology has been successfully implemented in the US and in Singapore and is being tested in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and the Philippines, among others. Also Read - Xbox Game Pass: List of games coming to consoles in July, big games releasing next month
Research on this technology started in 2011, and it essentially uses ‘White Space’ which is the unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum. Typical home Wi-Fi can travel through two walls at its maximum. Microsoft’s technology can travel through vegetation, buildings, and other obstacles. Also Read - Top 5 Minecraft Mobile seeds to build a world and where to find them
Chairman of Microsoft India, Bhaskar Pramanik said that they would make use of spectrum unused by Doordarshan. “Wi-Fi has a range of only about 100 metres, whereas the 200-300 MHz spectrum band available in the White Space can reach up to 10 km. This spectrum belongs mainly to Doordarshan and the government and is not used at all. We have sought clearance for a pilot project in two districts,” he said.
Talking about costs, Pramanik said that it would cost less than Rs 10 lakh to install a White Space technology router. “I believe TV White Space can be the affordable answer to last-mile connectivity challenges in India, especially for remote areas that lack electricity and other infrastructure,” he told ET earlier.
Apart from offering its White Space technology, Microsoft also hopes to partner with the government in new initiatives such as Smart Cities and the Jan Dhan Yojana, apart from Digital India, which offer significant opportunity for hosting data and cloud services.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, on his visit to India, had expressed Facebook’s desire to contribute to the government’s Digital India project by proposing to deploy alternative technology to provide last-mile connectivity.