‘Global internet access’ has become a paramount goal of humanitarian effort. Companies like FaceBook, Microsoft and Google are chomping at the bit to provide broad internet access in the most remote corners of the earth. Google’s latest initiative, Project Loon, sends balloons into the stratosphere to boost 4G signal to countries like New Zealand and, most recently, Indonesia. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg finds himself particularly concerned with connecting India to the internet, and ultimately of course to FaceBook. India has a population just north of 1.2 billion with less than 20% having internet access. A market of this size stimulates internet developers to pioneer the cause. However, FaceBook and Google may be late to the party, as far as India is concerned.
An Indian company based in Bangalore may have the necessary technology to provide access to most, if not all 1.2 billion people in the country. Saankhya Labs has developed Meghdoot, a transmitter that utilizes TV white space to provide and boost internet signals. At the core of the transmitter lies a microchip no bigger than a postage stamp. The Pruthvi chip powers the transmitter and allows it to convert the unused TV bandwidth into amplified internet signal.
TV network white space serves as a buffer between channels. These buffers operate at a lower frequency (400-800 MHz) than cellular signals, increasing the range of transmission. A normal internet router signal is able to penetrate through a few walls, providing access to a single home. But Meghdoot, powered by the Pruthvi chip, is able to take advantage of white space, requiring no line-of-sight and boosting the signal 6 to 10 miles. This is far more effective than towers and in-home routers. The signal’s range can be amplified even further with larger antenna towers.
Though India may not be watching HD video, or downloading movies, the internet access provided by Meghdoot is strong enough for email, sales transactions and basic messaging. Saankhya Labs is in the process of starting trials in India, Philippines, the U.S. and Singapore, as the technology is compliant with Wi-FAR standards.
Technologies like Google Project Loon and Saankhya Meghdoot (Pruthvi) address a clear and present global vacuum. Internet access provides more than cat videos and Donald Trump memes. Secondary education, access to global news, global communication and online investment opportunities are just the tip of the iceberg. Getting India online would be a tremendous accomplishment in the effort to provide global access. Saankhya Labs CEO and founder, Parag Naik, told the Economic Times that “India can take the lead in both technology and the markets for TV white space-based broadband delivery.” Internet availability would be superb in and of itself, but this breakthrough stakes a claim for India in the vast expanse of technological advancement.