The Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON), in its second phase, will generate revenue from its network by leasing out its unused fibres. About 22 of a total of 48 fibres will be used for the network’s own operations, the first phase of which will become a reality by June end with 14,000 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families being provided free internet. Close to 30,000 government institutions, including offices, educational institutions and hospitals, will also get connectivity in the first phase.
“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.
As part of the implementation of the first phase, the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITL) has called for Expression of Interest (EoI) from local Internet service providers to provide connections through the KFON’s wide network. According to KFON officials, local operators, especially the companies providing cable and Internet services, are some of the targets. The process is expected to be completed this month with Internet reaching households and offices by the end of June. A total of 100 BPL families in each of the State’s 140 Assembly constituencies will be identified in the first phase through the local bodies to provide the free Internet connection.
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 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.
Internet services will also be made available to the public at affordable rates in the second phase. KFON had submitted the draft Request for Proposal to the State government for approval. The project, earlier scheduled to be completed in December 2020, had been delayed due to the pandemic and the delay in getting right of way permissions for cabling from various departments.
The unprecedented rains as well as the impossibility of extended shutdowns of KSEB lines during the examination season also slowed down the cabling works, stretching to 34,961 kilometres, which is piggybacking on the KSEB’s existing infrastructure.