The Kerala state government is planning to provide free internet connection to select below poverty line (BPL) families in all the assembly segments by May 2022. This move would mark the beginning of the ambitious plan to provide free internet connections to 2 million families across the state under the Kerala Optical Fibre Network (K-FON) project announced by the government in 2017.
To this end, the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limitted, which oversees the project, has invited expressions of interest (EoI) from local internet service providers that are capable of providing last mile connectivity.
Outlining the modus operandi, Santhosh Babu, head, K-FON, informed that the plan is to provide connectivity to 100 eligible families in each assembly constituency. However, this would be scaled up in the later phases. Meanwhile, Babu further noted that K-FON is almost reaching its target of establishing high-speed internet connectivity in 30,000 government institutions.
According to the plans, each family that gets free connection would be able to use up to 1.5 GB data per day at a speed of 10 to 15 MB per second. Tenders have been floated to identify the potential local internet providers. Further, beneficiaries would be identified by respective local bodies and the same would be handed over by K-FON to the local service providers for establishing connectivity. As many as 500 families eligible for the free internet connectivity would be identified in the first phase. Kerala was the first state to declare access to the internet as the basic right of citizens. The K-FON project is being rolled out at an estimated cost of Rs 15.31 billion.
Moreover, the internet service would be given to others at a highly competitive rate. The optical fibre cables are drawn using the Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEB) distribution network. Meanwhile, cables are being strung along 2,600 kilometres.