Kerela Makes Internet as ‘Basic Right’ and Set to Provide Free High-Speed Connection to 2 Million Poor Households

Kerela State becomes the first in the country to provide 100% free high-speed internet to the people of the state. Around 20 lakh families below the poverty line are expected to be benefitted by the same.

In a recent, Kerela Government has passed laws to make internet connection a basic right for the citizens. Further, the Kerala government is all set to provide a free high-speed internet connection to nearly 2 million families in the state who are below the poverty line.

The state government has sanctioned Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) project valuing Rs. 1548 Crore. The project was passed by the State Cabinet on Wednesday, November 6 and is undertaken by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITL).

The project is aimed at laying down a state-wide extensive network of optical fibres. It will utilise the resources of KSEB and KSITL and will be funded by Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).

Apart from this the, a consortium of firms led by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has acquired the tender for the project to establish the network and its maintenance for seven years.

In a tweet made by Thomas Isaac, Kerala Finance on November 7th, it is said that the project is expected to get completed before the end of the next year, i.e. December 2020.

It read, “Internet connection made a basic a citizen right. Kerala cabinet gives the 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 fibre optic network project undertake by the Kerela Government is one of the major announcements by the Left Democratic Front in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2016. As per the reports by Scroll, Kerela’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has been working hard to to get more investors in Kerala so that the state’s technical infrastructure & major projects can be elevated.

Not only the poor families, but government offices and schools will also be linked to the internet under this project. The state government believes that this will open up opportunities for Kerela in the IT sector. There will be development in artificial intelligence, blockchain, and startup domains. As reported by The Indian Express More than 30,000 government offices and schools and around 20 lakh households are expected to be benefitted with the optical fibre network. They will be able to use high-speed, reliable and scalable fibre network.

Currently, only about 20% of mobile towers in the state are connected through optical fibre networks. As the reports suggest, the government will be setting up Wi-Fi transmission centres across the state. As a result, people will have uninterrupted access to high-speed internet. The local self-help groups in villages will be able to avail the internet facility to exercise e-commerce sales.

As the Sources from IT Departments have been quoted by The Times of India, “We aim 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.”

As suggested by the report of The Logical Indian, a facility in Chennai has already started the quality testing and colour coding. The Kerela Fibre Optical Network will have two main centres in the state. One in the state capital – Thiruvananthapuram and one at Kakkanad in Ernakulam district.

The optical fibre cables being used in the project have been recently imported from the USA. The government is planning to use cable television networks to expand their connectivity across the state. The Cable TV network has connectivity to over 95% of households in Kerela, hence it will be easy for them to spread the network. Also, with the help of KSEB’s electricity network, even last-mile connectivity will be achieved.

While the Project is expected to get completed by December 2020, there are unprecedented situations which may hinder the workflow. The government is aimed at spreading Optical fibre across the state with an intent of fostering IT sector in the province. If everything goes well, Kerela State will be the first state to have successfully operational Optical Fibre network across India.

Author: Keshav Kothari

A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.

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