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White-Fi technology of Microsoft to boost Digital India Initiative

Jul 17, 2015 16:09 IST

White-Fi technology: Uses unspent spectrum on TV for internet usage

White-Fi technology or TV White Space Technology was in news in the second week of July 2015 as Microsoft announced plans to introduce this technology in India to providelast mile connectivity and give a boost to the Digital India initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to Microsoft, its technology can provide free Wi-Fi connectivity to the roughly one-billion Indians who don't have any net access and it plans to start with International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Bangalore campus.

Characteristics features of White-Fi technology

  • White-Fi technology uses the unused spectrum in frequencies utilised for broadcasting of television signals and use it for the internet. In technology parlance, these unused spectrum spaces are called White Space and thus it is also called TV White Space technology.
  • The 200-300 MHz spectrum in the white space can reach up to 10 km as compared to current Wi-Fi technology that allows you a range of about 100 metres. The 200-300 MHz spectrum currently belongs to Doordarshan TV channel and isn't used at all.
  • It can be run on solar power and thus overcome a key hindrance that currently impedes internet service providers, namely the high cost of installation equipment.

How it would aid Digital India initiative?

Under the Digital India initiative, the government plans to use the national optic fibre network project to deliver e-services to all corner of the country. However,

  • Reaching the end consumer may still require wireless technology, particularly in far flung areas as network will be deployed only at the gram panchayat level.
  • Generally 200-600 MHz frequency is used for TV channels to carry data, however, in India, 93 percent of this spectrum is not utilised. White-Fi will use this vacant spectrum to provide connectivity.
  • It has potential to provide free connectivity to large sections of the Indian population through wider coverage and economical deployment and licence-free access.
  • It is best suited to provide digital connectivity to low-income group segments which mostly remain unattractive to commercial telecom providers.

Other countries where Microsoft has helped implement the technology are Kenya, Singapore, the U.S. and London.

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