The government of Kerala has reportedly given a nod to the Kerala-Fiber Optic Network (K-FON) project, through which, 20 lakh Below Poverty Line (BPL) families will have access to a high-speed internet connection for free and non-BPL families will have access to the same at an affordable cost. Thomas Isaac, the Finance Minister of Kerala, recently tweeted the announcement.
The K-FON project, with an investment outlay of ₹1548 crore, is a part of the bigger government initiative aimed at providing internet access to all citizens of the State. It will be financed by Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), which is a state-owned financial institution and acts as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for mobilizing and channelizing funds for various infrastructure projects.
Both Kerala State Electricity Board Limited and Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited are responsible for jointly set up a State-wide optical fiber network to link houses and more than 30,000 government offices and educational institutions under the project. A consortium led by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has won the bid to complete the project by December 2020.
Apart from providing internet access to all the citizens, the project is aimed at digitization of government services such as -health programs, IT parks, airports, and seaports. It will also help in promoting major developments in the IT sector in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things, and startup domains.
Once built up, the optical fiber network can be utilized by licensed internet service providers and cable TV operators to provide internet services to citizens. The mobile internet services are expected to improve after the completion of the project as all the mobile towers will be linked with the optical fiber network.
The project is expected to benefit corporates and small scale enterprises depending on the e-commerce channel. It will enable high-quality video conferencing and better transport management.