At a dinner hosted in honor of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that the company wants to help bring internet access to 500,000 villages across India.
Last November, the company began experimenting with the unused spectrum between TV channels, known as ‘white space‘, to provide internet services to a a school in the Srikakulam district in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
It’s now extended its pilot testing to the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Nadella said Microsoft plans to work with the central and state governments to bring connectivity using this technology to 500,000 villages across the country.
That could be huge for India, where roughly 70 percent of the population inhabits nearly 640,000 villages.
Nadella said, “We believe that low-cost broadband connectivity coupled with the scale of cloud computing intelligence that can be harnessed from data can help drive creativity, efficiency and productivity across governments and businesses of all sizes.”
He added that next week, Microsoft will announce the availability of its cloud services out of its data centers in India.
“A key part of both Make in India and Digital India, bringing world class infrastructure into India, respecting India’s digital security, sovereignty and privacy is a key milestone for us,” Nadella noted, referring to the country’s projects to encourage local manufacturing and to bring government services online.
Between Nadella’s announcement and Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s plan to bring public Wi-Fi to 400 train stations in India, it looks like Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley is proving to be rather fruitful for the millions of citizens who are yet to log on to the Web for the first time.