Over 2 million poor families to get free Internet in Kerala - GulfToday

Over 2 million poor families to get free Internet in Kerala

Internet Users

The photo has been used for illustrative purpose only.

AM Abdussalam / Ashraf Padanna

The Kerala government has finally gave the green signal for the ambitious K-Fon project, which will provide free Internet connection to over two million families that come under BPL (Below Poverty Line) apart from offering high speed Internet connection and voice call facilities at affordable rates.

The state cabinet on Wednesday accorded administrative sanction for the Rs15.48 billion project, which will also offer television channels at a later date.

According to draft plans, licenced Internet service providers and cable TV operators can utilise the optic fibre network to provide services to citizens.

The scheme, funded by KIIFB, the investment arm of the state government that recently went global with the listing of its masala bonds on the London Stock Exchange, proposes to use a state-wide optical fibre network laid down by Kerala State Electricity Board Limited and Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited to link houses and offices.

It will make all public places, including some 30,000 government offices and educational institutions, Wi-Fi hotspots. The state’s schools already have internet connectivity under its IT@School project launched a few years back, which the new company will now take over.

The project expected to be completed by December 2020, is being implemented by a consortium led by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

"Internet connection is now a basic right of the citizen,” Thomas Isaac, the southern state’s finance minister, said on Thursday.

"Every household in Kerala will now get an internet connection. The project is to be completed by Dec 2020.”

The finance minister first announced the project in his annual budget speech in the state legislative assembly in 2017 to wide applause.

A note issued by the chief minister’s office on the cabinet decision said the K-Fon project would open the possibility for the state to take a giant leap in the IT sector, with major gains in the Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things and startup domains.

It would also give a push to the digitalisation of government services like the e-health programme.

IT parks, airports and seaports would also benefit from the linkage.

Small scale enterprises using e-commerce platforms stand to gain from K-Fon.

In villages, local self-help groups can avail the network to conduct sales through e-commerce.

High quality video conferencing and transport management are other significant advantages.

The K-Fon fibre optic network will also link all mobile towers in the state for better mobile Internet services.

At present only 20 per cent of mobile towers are linked through fibre optic network.