Microsoft may partner with State Bank of India on White Space project

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The Economic Times of India reports that Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has been in talks with State Bank of India (SBI) officials on using Microsoft’s White Space technology, which offers wide area long distance wireless networking over the old television bands, to bring banking to rural areas in India.

SBI’s Deputy Managing Director and Chief Information Officer Mrutyunjay Mahapatra told Business Standard that the bank is “experimenting with it (white space), but the security aspect of it is not established. We are hungry. In fact, Mr Satya Nadella is also talking with us for Wide-Fi.”

Microsoft has been testing the technology in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and has earlier said they believe the spectrum should be free to encourage the provision of services to less fortunate consumers.

“We believe rural internet will propel India’s rural economy,” said Prashant Shukla, Microsoft India’s national technology officer, referring to a 2012 International Telecom Union report that said a 10% increase in broadband would increase GDP by 1.38% in low and middle-income countries. “The technology can quickly provide low-cost internet connectivity to underserved sections and also provide newer ways of livelihood in rural India,” he continued.

“We are in talks with Microsoft (for white space). If they are willing to provide white space here, it will be very good,” Dhananjaya Tambe, chief general manager (IT-operations), at SBI was quoted as saying.

Microsoft has however run into opposition from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) who believes that the spectrum should not simply be allocated to Microsoft, but should rather be auctioned off instead.

Time will tell if Microsoft will be able to gain access to White space in India against the established interests..

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