BPL families to get KFON Internet by May

The first of the below the poverty line (BPL) families in the State are set to get free Internet connections under the State government’s ambitious KFON project in May this year. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Facebook post that 100 BPL families in each of the 140 Assembly constituencies will get free Internet connection in the initial stage.

The KFON project aims at providing such connections to 20 lakh households in the State, in a bid to ensure universal Internet access and address the problem of digital divide, which has now become especially acute after the COVID-19 outbreak. The previous Left Democratic Front Government had declared Internet connection as a basic right, when the ₹1,548-crore KFON project was launched in 2019. But, the project, earlier scheduled to be completed in December 2020, has been delayed due to the pandemic and the delay in getting right of way permissions for cabling from various departments.

Linking govt. offices

In addition to providing connectivity to all homes, the project also aims at linking all government offices. Out of the 30,000 government offices, in which end-office connectivity has been aimed at, work was completed in 3,019 offices by December 2021. The government hopes to take the network to 3,000-5,000 offices each month and complete the work by June this year. Out of 34,961 kilometres of All-Dielectric Self-Supporting fiber optic cable required to be laid, 11,906 kilometres have been completed across the 14 districts. Out of a total of 2,600 kilometres of optical ground wire required for the project, 2,045 kilometres have been completed.

The work on 114 Points of Presence (POP), the local access point that allows users to connect to the internet, has been completed, while work on 216 more are progressing. These are being set up in the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) substations. The KSEB and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited are implementing the project. The Network Operating Centre has been completed. The centre will monitor round the clock the Statewide optical fibre network, and can detect faults through fibre monitoring system software, making it possible to fix network or connectivity issues.

To be leased out

KFON officials have made it clear that it is neither a telecom service provider nor an Internet service provider but will set up as a “vendor neutral” optical fibre network that will serve as the infrastructural backbone that can take high-speed Internet services to the public. Cable operators, Internet service providers and telecom operators can lease a portion of the core network from KFON and provide high-speed Internet to consumers, while the government will subsidise the same for the BPL families.


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