Kerala becomes India’s first state to have internet service with KFON; 4 things to know
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan launched Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) on June 5 as a part of the state’s mission of ‘Internet for all’. This is what you should know about it.
Earlier last week, the Kerala government announced that it will launch Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) soon in the state with an aim to provide free internet services to more than 20 lakh BPL families. And now, the project has become a reality as KFON has been officially announced and as many as 7000 families have already got access to free internet, as per reports. The launch comes four years after the ruling party announced that access to the internet would be a basic right in the state of Kerala. It is also the first state in India to have its own internet service. Under the scheme, every household will get 1.5 GB of data per day at the speed of 15 Mbps.
The service is not just for households as more than 30,000 government institutions that include offices, educational institutions, and hospitals will also get the KFON connection, as per a report by The Hindu. The first phase of the project is almost at its end and marking the moment, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has officially launched the internet service in the state. But the question that arises is how is the government able to afford free internet for the masses. Let us take a closer look.
How does the internet service work?
The ambitious project requires fairly significant groundwork in order to set up the infrastructure. Reports state that the government had built the right infrastructure in the remote hinterland of the country, ensuring no region remains too far from its benefits. Once the infrastructure was built, cables were laid for the fiber net. As per reports, around 34000 kilometers of cables were placed across the state.
In July 2022, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) gave KFON both an infrastructure provider (IPL) license and approved it as an internet service provider (ISP).
Who are benefitting from it?
The state had the aim of providing free internet access to 20 lakh BPL households by the end of the project. In the first phase, 14,000 households were shortlisted, out of which 7000 families have received it. To select the beneficiaries for the first phase, all 140 constituencies were asked to submit a list of 100 BPL families.
The entire KFON internet service is not free
It should be noted that KFON, in its entirety, is not free. Giving access to free internet to BPL households and government institutions is just one part of the entire network that has been kept free of charge. In its second phase, the government will lease out its unused fibre network to generate revenue.
“In the second phase, monetisation of the network will happen. The leased lines and dark fibres, the fibres which are remaining unused, will become the main income sources. We have a total of 48 fibres, out of which KFON will be using 22. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) will also be using some. The rest can be leased out,” Santhosh Babu, Managing Director, K-FON told The Hindu.
The next steps
Just giving the access to internet is not enough. There is already a digital literacy programme in place that is enabling panchayats with the knowledge to access the different services on the internet. The same is expected to be passed down from the panchayats to people in every village, bringing a change at the grassroots level.