Microsoft is testing its new technology to bridge the digital divide in India by offering content service to users without internet connectivity in rural parts of the country.
The US-based technology major has joined hands with India’s content streaming service, Eros Now to offer content service to consumers under a month-long pilot program using its Azure cloud.
In this pilot, Eros Now uploaded content to a central content repository, built on Microsoft Azure, that can quickly process large volumes of data to distribute to hubs.
Consumers then connect to these hubs to securely download content to their mobile devices without internet connectivity.
By using this system, consumers in low connectivity regions could access Eros Now’s media content and pay for services in modes they prefer, Microsoft said.
In the coming months, Microsoft said that it will expand the test to additional providers to ensure consumers across India can access this service.
“By helping customers in low bandwidth locations across India access the content of their choice, we can expand retail distribution opportunities, help media partners connect with more customers, and help customers connect with stories and content they love,” Ravi Krishnaswamy, Corporate Vice President – Azure Global Industry, Microsoft, said in a statement.
The company said that it was committed to inclusive growth in line with its vision to bring about a difference to the community and ensure technology access to the last mile.
Microsoft also wants to tap the opportunity offered by the country’s fast-growing content streaming market. It said that there is an increasing demand for video content and accessibility across combinations of devices and carriers.
“We’re committed to bringing together cloud technology, industry expertise, and partners to help our media and entertainment customers innovate and grow,” Krishnaswamy said.
Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now said that the association with Microsoft to utilize its cloud-enabled last-mile content delivery enabled the company to tap the underserved potential customer base in low bandwidth.
“In India’s cluttered online streaming industry, differentiation has gone beyond content and technology to provide an edge over others,” Hussein added.
This is Microsoft’s second attempt at bringing connectivity solutions to Indian consumers. It had previously tested “TV White Space” technology in the sub-GHz band for providing rural internet connectivity in 1,000 of the most backward villages in India’s Maharashtra state.
India’s telecom department (DoT), however, decided not to allocate the 470-582 MHz spectrum band for the commercial deployment of TV White Space technology due to security concerns raised by the country’s security agencies. With no license, Microsoft decided to shut its program in the country in 2017.