Microsoft plans to provide free Internet across India using ‘white space’ TV spectrum

Microsoft plans to provide free Internet across India using ‘white space’ TV spectrum

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in this photo. Image: AP
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Microsoft has announced its plans to bring Internet connectivity across the country completely free of cost.

As revealed to Hindustan Times, Microsoft has proposed to make use of the “white space” or the unused spectrum between two TV channels, to make Internet connectivity to a vast population an economically-viable solution.

Unlike Wi-Fi, which has a range of only about 100 metres, the 200-300 MHz spectrum in the white space can reach up to 10 km. This spectrum currently belongs to the government-owned Doordarshan TV channel and is not used at all.

This solution addresses the key hurdle in setting up Internet connectivity across remote areas in the country: the lack of digital infrastructure. According to Microsoft India’s chief, Bhaskar Pramanik, the initiative will help bring Internet accessible to a vast population a cost-effective manner. It will create an eco-system that will benefit other technology service providers, including manufacturers of routers, and not just Microsoft .

Microsoft is seeking permission to kick-start the project in two major districts as of now.

The initiative seems to have come right in time when PM Narendra Modi has announced his Digital India project. The project that would cost $1.2 billion aims to connect 250,000 gram panchayats in order to make Internet connectivity accessible to every part of the country. The project has garnered the interest of several tech giants, including Facebook and Microsoft, who have shown their willingness to offer support to make it a reality.

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