Ever since the Indian Government announced the ‘Digital India’ program a few years back, Microsoft has been trying to deploy their TV White Spaces program in India. TV White Spaces technology can offer cost-friendly and accessible broadband to rural India, delivering the much needed last-mile connectivity. Microsoft has been testing the technology in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and some other places in India.
This project ran into issues last year when Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) wrote to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, telecom secretary Rakesh Garg and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman RS Sharma demanding an auction of the spectrum, instead of allocating it to one company. Microsoft’s plan was to just offer the technology platform that can make use of the unused spectrum. They have no interest in becoming a telecom player in India and we can already see how this technology can be deployed through local partners.
The Hindu today reported that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is likely to discuss some of the hurdles that the TV White Space project has hit during his meet with government officials and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad this week.
“The pilot project was completed after the frequency was given for the test phases, but there was no follow up from either Nadella or any other Microsoft team,” a senior government official told BusinessLine.
Hopefully, Microsoft can make some meaningful progress on this project during the discussions with government officials this time.