After making internet connection a basic right of citizens, the Kerala government is all set to provide free high-speed internet connection to nearly 20 lakh families below the poverty line. The Rs 1,548-crore project was sanctioned by the cabinet on Wednesday, November 6.
The project called Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) is undertaken by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited(KSITL). The flagship project will make use of the resources of KSEB and KSITL to lay out an extensive state-wide optical fibre network. The project will be funded by Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). A consortium of firms led by Bharat Electronics Limited(BEL) has acquired the tender for the project to establish the network and maintain it for seven years.
The project is expected to be completed by December 2020, said Thomas Isaac, Kerala Finance Minister, in a Tweet on November 7.
“Internet connection made a basic a citizen right. Kerala cabinet gives final nod for ₹1548 crores Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) Project to provide Internet to every household in the state. For 20 lakh BPL households it will be free. The project to be completed by Dec 2020,” the tweet read.
Internet connection made a basic a citizen right. Kerala cabinet gives final nod for ₹1548 crores Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON)Project to provide Internet to every household in the state. For 20 lakh BPL households it will be free. The project to be completed by Dec 2020.
— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) November 7, 2019
The KFON Project aims to provide connectivity to over 30,000 government offices and schools and 20 lakh households using a high-speed, reliable and scalable fibre network.
The government will also set up Wi-Fi transmission centres across the state. With this project, those who cannot afford high-speed internet will also be able to gain access at low costs. Self-help groups in villages will also be able to use the network to drive sales through e-commerce.
“Our aim is to provide seamless bandwidth for internet service providers and content providers to connect with almost every household in the state. Once the network is established by December 2020, service providers would get on board. There can be any number of players. Once they are in, free internet service would be given through them,” sources in the IT department were quoted in The Times of India.
The optical fibre cable for the project was recently imported from the United States. A facility in Chennai has also started the quality testing and colour coding. KFON will have two main centres; one in the state capital – Thiruvananthapuram and one at Kakkanad in Ernakulam district, said the media. Using cable TV networks that have connectivity to over 95% of households in Kerala and the electricity network of KSEB, last-mile connectivity will be achieved.
The project was one of the key promises made by the present Left Democratic Front(LDF) in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2016. With major opportunities in artificial intelligence, blockchain, and startup domains, the state government said that the project would help Kerala to develop its IT sector.