Kerala government on Monday launched the Kerala Fiber Optic Network (KFON) scheme in a stride towards digital empowerment. The aim is to provide internet access to all households across the state that are below poverty line (BPL).
"The KFON scheme aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure that every citizen has access to the vast opportunities offered by the online world, especially when the internet has become an indispensable tool for education, employment, communication, and accessing government services," Lekha P, Project Manager, KFON said to Business Standard in a telephonic interview.
According to the official, the internet connectivity project entails the laying optical fibre cable network of 30,000 kilometres, with 375 Points-of-Presence across Kerala. With an estimated cost of Rs 1,611 crore, KFON aims to ensure internet connectivity for approximately 2 million BPL households out of which connections are been given to 14,000 households in the first phase. According to the Project Manager, in the first phase, the Government of Kerala has identified 100 BPL households in each legislative assembly with the help of the local government.
#Kerala has realized the dream of becoming the first state with its own internet service!— Kerala Government | കേരള സർക്കാർ (@iprdkerala) June 5, 2023
CM @pinarayivijayan dedicated #KFON to the people. It offers free internet connections to 20 lakh families, ending the digital divide by ensuring internet for all.pic.twitter.com/w9HpLryEAy
The scheme also aims to provide connectivity to over 30,000 government institutions out of which connection has been provided to over 17,000 public offices, Lekha told Business Standard.
The scheme claims an internet speed from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps and is planning to speed up the transition to 4G and 5G, once KFON is connected to mobile towers.
Being implemented by Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) in collaboration with various stakeholders, including the state-owned Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), Bharat Electronics (BEL), and internet service providers (ISPs), the scheme was announced in Budget 2017 and the work under it began in 2019. According to Lekha, the partnership with various stakeholders has enabled the optimal utilisation of the existing electricity towers for laying fiber optic cables, reducing costs and ensuring a faster deployment of the network along with subsidised internet service.