Microsoft’s plan to bring the internet to India using TV airwaves may have hit a roadblock, according to a report from The Economic Times.
White Space, the name Microsoft has given the project, uses the available space on the terrestrial TV spectrum to deliver Wi-Fi to remote areas of India. Microsoft is planning on making the access free, according to The Economic Times, as it does not want to become a telecom company.
The Indian authorities may block the plan, however. Union minister for communications and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, told The Economic Times that “[t]he government will not provide any spectrum without auction and the only exception will be for the defence and the security establishments.”
Essentially, Microsoft’s plan to use the unused space on terrestrial TV spectrum must be opened up to bidders — and Microsoft could lose the bidding war.
The Indian government has set up a committee to look at using White Space for internet access. “There is a policy coming soon,” a person on the committee told The Economic Times. “It will be good for everybody.” The person did, however, note that “nothing will be free.”
Microsoft has trialed White Space in two areas of India with success, according to the company.
“We have never had the intention to be the service provider,” said Bhaskar Pramanik, the chairman of Microsoft India. “Our goal is very simple: we want to empower entrepreneurs.”