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Helping bridge the digital divide in India
June 26, 2023

Helping bridge the digital divide in India

Taara and Airtel partner to bring fast, affordable internet to more people

Written by Mahesh Krishnaswamy, General Manager, Project Taara at X

Roughly a third of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to the internet — one of the most transformative technologies of our time. In India where I grew up, a growing number of people are getting connected, but existing infrastructure isn’t keeping up with the exponentially growing demand for data.

This challenge is the focus of a new partnership between Taara and Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), one of India’s leading telecommunications service providers. Over the coming months Airtel will be deploying Taara’s links across their network in rural and urban areas in an effort to bring fast affordable internet to more people. This rollout follows a number of pilots with Airtel and is the largest deployment of Taara in India to date.

How Taara works

Taara’s wireless optical communication links use beams of light to deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity over long distances. In the same way traditional fiber uses light to carry data through cables in the ground, Taara uses light to transmit information at speeds as high as 20 gigabits per second as a very narrow, invisible beam. This beam is sent between two small Taara terminals to create a link.

To install a Taara link, the team uses mirrors to connect and align the beams

To create a link, Taara’s terminals search for each other, detect the other’s beam of light, and lock-in like a handshake to create a high-bandwidth connection. By creating a series of links from our partner’s fiber optic network over ground, Taara’s links can relay fast and abundant internet to people in places where it’s not practical or economically viable to install fibre. For example, in dense metro areas, across rugged terrains or over rivers.

Learning from deployments around the world

For the last few years the Taara team has deployed links with partners around the world. From rural villages in Andhra Pradesh, to downtown Nairobi, to the far corners of Fiji and Tonga —  these deployments have given us important real world insights that have informed our technical development and helped us reduce the cost of Taara’s technology so it can become an affordable part of the global connectivity solution.

In the Taara lab at X headquarters in Mountain View, California

Since our initial pilots together in 2019, Airtel has been a key partner for the Taara team and we’re excited to expand our work in India. We look forward to supporting Airtel’s roll out of Taara links across their network and hope our technology can play a vital role in Airtel’s 5G expansion.

As we continue to help bridge the world’s digital infrastructure gaps we invite other internet service providers and mobile network operators who are interested in deploying Taara across their network to get in touch.

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