BANGALORE, India The annual report of India’s ministry of information technology for 2004 to 2005 has disclosed research and development programs not in the public eye, focusing largely on affordable computing and next-generation wireless communications.
The programs include developing FPGA-based simple messaging terminals, developing an operating system for smart cards and building a future-proof, perpetually available mobile communications and computing infrastructure.
The Center for Excellence in Wireless Technologies (CeWIT), for instance, has been established in Chennai with seed capital from the Dept. of Information Technology (DIT) through Media Lab Asia. This program is a public-private initiative to promote R & D in fixed, mobile technologies and create next-generation wireless technologies. CeWIT will address last mile issues for economical broadband connectivity and develop intellectual property to strengthen India’s global role in this area.
Another Media Lab project implemented by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, is working on mesh peer-to-peer technologies for rural 1EEE 802.11 standard-based networks that will solve the last 25 kilometer access problem in rural India. This project is considered crucial as fiber links in the country’s remote regions are limited.
In low-cost computing, a working group comprising members from industry and the DIT has been set up to recommend to the government plans to increase PC penetration, Internet connectivity and grow the domestic hardware market.
In another low-cost computing technology initiative, IIT Delhi is working with various microprocessor-based platforms and embedded operating systems to provide solutions users can optimize for a given application.
The DIT will initiate a project called Cooperation for Localization and Open Technologies, that will coordinate development of open source software, open standards and open systems to produce affordable PCs and information and computing technologies.
Another low-cost initiative is MeTel, a low-cost messaging terminal targeted at villages in sync with a wireless system. IIT Madras is developing a prototype using field programmable gate arrays.