In a first-of-its-kind pilot, Microsoft, DOT, DEITY and ERNET are working with the government of Andhra Pradesh to bring low-cost broadband Internet connectivity to four educational institutions in the district of Srikakulam which had no internet connectivity earlier. With Z. P. High School at Voppangi as the base station, the other three campuses were receivers located at distances of 10 kilometers or more from the base station.
Anil Bhansali, managing director, Microsoft India R&D and Prashant Shukla, National Technology Officer and other executives called on Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to discuss the potential of this technology and other company initiatives.
“As a proponent of technology, I have always experimented with technology to take services and welfare programs to people. With this pilot, Microsoft has shown that innovation and technology can make a society technologically advanced, eventually creating a knowledge-based economy,” Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said.
The TV White Spaces technology utilizes the unused space in terrestrial TV spectrum to provide cheap Internet connectivity to remote areas. This technology dynamically allocates unused bands to Internet broadband transmission while regular TV transmissions go on uninterrupted.
By doing this, it provides opportunities of wide coverage and cheap license-free access. Unlike Wi-Fi that propagates to a 100M radius, TV White Spaces propagate the signal to a radius of 10 kilometres or more.
Commenting on the pilot, Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India, said, “We have been a strong advocate of TV White Space technology and firmly believe it can be the affordable answer to last-mile connectivity challenges in India. Not only that, this technology can also be used during emergency or disaster scenarios. We are deeply invested in India’s growth, and we believe that technologies like TV White Spaces can truly support the Government in realizing its vision for a Digital India.”
The company has already conducted this project on pilot basis in countries such as Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and Singapore among others.
The Chief Minister, later, interacted over Skype from his camp office in Vijayawada with students in Voppangi, Singupuram, Fareedapeta and Sativada.
Microsoft has also presented the cloud-based Machine Learning solution that they have built in collaboration with the AP’s Department of Education to help predict student drop-outs. This is being implemented in Chittoor district as part of ‘Badi Pilustondi’ – flagship program of the government.
“This is a pioneering step undertaken by the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Microsoft is happy to be supporting them. We believe machine-learning technology can enable both educators and students in making insightful decisions by analyzing large volumes of data in today’s new mobile-first, cloud-first world. It also offers the potential to transform the future of skilled workforce in India,” said Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt. Ltd.
This too is one of the first such initiatives by any State Government in India. Given this experience, the Chief Minister believes that machine-learning has far reaching impact for gathering insights and taking corrective actions in various sectors, and departments of the Government. As a technology-savvy Chief Minister, Naidu sees the future in data-driven decision-making and the use of cutting-edge technologies to enable better governance.