Since last couple of years, the usage of While Space technology by Microsoft to spread low cost, almost-free Internet in rural hinterland gained immense momentum.
This usage of new age technology was seen as a savior for millions of rural Indians, who are still untouched with Digital India and high speed Internet.
However, as per latest reports coming in, it has been discovered that White Space technology can become a national threat; and this is the reason Microsoft may be asked to stop its usage and implementation in Maharashtra.
If this happens, then White Space may witness an early exit from India.
When it comes to National Security, nothing is debatable.
Security Agencies: White Space Is a National Threat!
There exists massive unused spectrum, which lies within the frequencies which TV channels use for their broadcasting. This is called as White Space, and Microsoft was determined to use this unused spectrum to provide Internet connectivity in rural areas.
Maharashtra was about to become the first such state to use White Space in order to spread high-speed Internet.
In fact, Department of Telecom and Information and Broadcasting Ministry was keen to use this unused and idle spectrum for mobile services as well.
However, a recent investigation by Security Agencies in India, mainly Intelligence Bureau has found that White Space can be a national security threat. This is the reason Microsoft can be asked to stop its usage, and implementation in Maharashtra’s rural areas.
And Jio is more preferred and recommended, compared to Microsoft’s White Space technology for spreading high speed Internet.
An unnamed official said, “We are using it in only a small manner, we have gone with Reliance Jio to provide internet. There were issues with regards to security clearance for the technology being used by Microsoft.”
Why White Space Is A National Security Threat?
The issue boils down to monitoring the spectrum, and when it comes to White Space, then security agencies are not able to do it.
Thus, if the spectrum under White Space is left unmonitored, then anti-national forces can use it for their nefarious intentions, and mayhem can ensue.
White Space is mainly an unregulated band, and Intelligence Bureau is in no mood to leave it for exploitation.
Former chief technology officer of the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and founder of Telecom One Major TT Thomas said, “If the IB has raised objections then it may be due to the fact that it may not have systems to monitor and track this band, especially since the technology is only being used in few countries. The transmissions happening on this band could be detrimental to national security unless the agency has the systems, databases and receivers in place to track the conversations.”
He said that specific regulations and policies must be created, before propagating its mass level usage, and this cannot be formed right now.
Microsoft has given a cautious reply, as they said, “Microsoft’s vision is to help solve the last mile connectivity problem in the world. The TVWS technology dynamically allocates these unused bands to transmit Internet broadband while regular TV transmissions go on uninterrupted. TVWS is as secure as any other wireless transmission medium and we are not aware of any security concern raised by the authorities.”
Last year too, the issue of national security was raised, when questions were asked regarding White Space’ expansion in India. Then IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that national security is of paramount importance, and no compromises can be made.
We will keep you updated as receive more information regarding this issue.