As part of the Digital India initiative, government of India is planning to connect rural areas under high-speed internet networks. So, their telecom department is looking to provide a contract for enabling last-mile connectivity which is worth several billion dollars. All three major internet technology companies Microsoft, Google and Facebook are competing for this project. Google is researching a solution called Project Loon. Facebook is experimenting with solar powered drones. And Microsoft is researching the use of TV whitespaces.
Recently, Microsoft India Chairman Bhaskar Pramanik commented that Microsoft’s solution with whitespace is more effective for last-mile connectivity than the solutions from Google or Facebook. In fact, Microsoft has sought a license from the telecom department to deploy a working example of the technology in Bangalore as proof of concept.
“I can’t imagine a drone hovering over the Earth for long periods of time and a balloon not drifting away, while here you can use solar power, an antenna that is used for simple TV broadcast and a device or router which is powered by solar which can provide the connectivity ,” Pramanik said.
“So there are many choices we have as a nation — we can use 2G, 3G or 4G, we can talk about balloons or drones. But my belief is that this is one other technology which can be used,” Pramanik said. Microsoft is not talking about running a network, but more about creating a technology meant for emerging markets, he said. “We’d like government, nations and telecom companies to use it.”
Indian government would be more happy to get all these technology inputs from these leading companies to realize their vision to connect the whole India by 2019.