Following Facebook’s recent Internet.org initiative, Microsoft is now planning to use “White Space” technology to contribute towards the effort of providing free internet access to every corner of the country.
White space, in telecommunications, is referred to the frequencies allotted to a broadcasting service but is unused. The unused frequencies are considered to have potential for provide wireless broadband Internet access. A device that can be used with such tech is called “white-space device” (WSD).
Currently, this white space spectrum is used by Government Broadcaster Doordarshan, for broadcasting free-to-air channels. Any receiver, set to the desired frequencies, can receive Doordarshan channel. Microsoft by making use of this very spectrum, efficiently aims to carry this plan of providing free basic web access to a successful point.
Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman, Microsoft India stated-
Wifi 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. The challenge is the lack of digital infrastructure across India. This initiative addresses this challenge in a cost-effective manner and creates an eco-system that will benefit everyone, including manufacturers of routers and other technology devices, other technology companies, besides Microsoft.
The outcome of this pilot project will decide its fate whether the project will be rolled to other remote areas or not. Microsoft, which was part of an international consortium that included BT, Nokia and BBC already experimented on the White Space-based Internet connectivity in Cambridge, US, in 2011.
According to experts, this technology holds a huge amount of potential and will prove to be very useful in boosting internet connectivity in countries such as India. Microsoft has also shown keen interest in being part of the movements such as Make in India and Digital India aimed towards the same concern of connectivity.
Along with the new Prime Minister, India has also welcomed the new enthusiasm and confidence to evolve in the IT sector. A number of tech giants have supported this new vibe across the country. Under Digital India campaign, the government wants to digitalize governance and connect about 2.5 lakh panchayats across the country with broadband. India has also shown a great interest in Google’s project Loon which is working to provide Internet access through high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere.