A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has designed a project that can help provide broadband connection to rural areas across the country using the existing infrastructure. The project ‘Gram Marg’ has won the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge, organised by global non-profit organisation Mozilla.
The project, which won among 100 submissions from 27 countries, has received a funding worth $125,000 (Rs 82 lakh) through the competition.
The project aims to connect 6,40,000 villages in rural India to the internet by providing broadband services. In its bid to bridge the digital divide and empower unconnected communities, the Gram Marg team has created an indigenous technology that utilises unused white space on the TV spectrum. The data can be transferred through wireless modes using WiFi backhaul technology. WiFi clusters set up in the villages can then be utilised to provide broadband access to the villages. Using resources available in homes, the team created rugged receivers and transmitters to connect villages in even the most difficult terrains. The solution has been rolled out in 25 villages on a pilot basis so far.
Abhay Karandikar, Dean (Faculty Affairs) and Institute Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering, who is spearheading the project, said, “We will continue to improve our technology solution to make it more efficient. We are also working on a sustainable business model that can enable local village entrepreneurs to deploy and manage access networks.”
The team is now evaluating an ‘applications and services’ model to enable local village population reap the benefits of broadband access. “We hope that our model can be aligned with… the government’s Digital India programme,” said Karandikar.