This Made-In-India Chip Can Use TV Spectrum to Take the Internet to Rural India

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An Indian organization has come up with a technology that can help increase internet connectivity and take it to the rural parts of the nation as well. 

A postal stamp-sized chip, called Pruthvi might have the potential to connect India’s rural population to the internet.

Developed by the Bangalore-based semiconductor firm, Saankhya Labs, the chip powers a system called Meghdoot that can use television White Space to transmit internet to many households.


Picture for representation only. Photo Credit: Matt Laskowski/Flickr

White Space refers to the underutilised portion of the radio frequency spectrum. According a report in CNET, networks often leave a buffer between channels for safety purposes. Thus, large portions of the spectrum, usually in the 470 MHz to 790 MHz band, allocated for television broadcasting are unused or wasted, like the spectrum traditionally used for over-the-air transmission using TV towers and rooftop antennas. These spaces are at a lower frequency, and therefore a longer wavelength. This gives the signal a longer range, which can be used to deliver fairly low-speed Internet access over a wide area.

Saankhya Labs was founded in 2007 by Parag Naik, Hemant Mallapur and Vishwakumara Kayargadde. Pruthvi’s use is to allow Meghdoot to connect to a user-side modem to translate the white space signals to the more common internet bands that smartphones, tablets and computers use.

This technology can provide internet for up to a radius of 10-15 km depending on the height of the antenna tower and transmission power. The range can also be increased.

Saankhya labs is set to carry out field trials across the country in collaboration with IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and IIT-Hyderabad. Discussions with Microsoft are also going on with the view of conducting trials in at Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh.

“World over regulatory authorities are using or planning to use this spectrum for their respective connectivity programmes. India can take the lead in both technology and the markets for TV White Space-based broadband delivery,” Parag Naik, CEO and co-founder of Saankhya Labs, told The Economic Times.

The chip is crucial in today’s times when the country is taking various measures to increase the impact of digital India, and also when various technology companies are working on similar goals. Saankhya Labs has now joined the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

The Meghdoot product line is also compliant to the Wi-FAR standard. This makes it suitable for use in other countries as well. The organization is also engaged with partners in the Philippines, the US and Singapore for trials.

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