Kerala's ambitious internet-providing project, K-FON (Kerala Fibre Optic Network), will be commissioned in December despite the COVID lockdown disrupting its works for two months, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Friday.
The chief minister made the announcement after a video conference with the heads of the companies in a consortium formed to set up the Rs 1500-crore project. The consortium consists of the public sector majors Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Railtel as well as private players SRIT and LS Cables. BEL is the consortium leader.
The chief minister reviewed the progress of the works at the video conference. “BEL's chairman and MD MV Gautam have ensured that the project would be finished in December. Other partners in the consortium have also agreed to it,” Vijayan told media.
“The completion of this project will be a great achievement for Kerala. Along with providing internet services to the commoners at affordable rates, connectivity will be given to schools, hospitals and government offices using the network,” the chief minister said.
He said K-FON would give a fillip to the knowledge-based economy that the state envisages. This will attract investments to the state, he said.
Though it made its first appearance in the 2016 election manifesto of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), K-FON project has enamoured considerable interest these days following the lockdown which witnessed many seek the refuge of digital platforms to keep their lives and businesses afloat.
During the lockdown, Kerala registered an unprecedented spike in the usage of internet.
The project is being implemented by Kerala State IT Infrastructure (KSITIL) along with the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).
As the December deadline fast approaches, the KSEB has begun setting up a robust fibre optic cable network across the State using its electric posts and transmission towers.
The state IT department is regularly reviewing the progress of the project.
Kerala has declared that access to internet is a basic right. The state government has promised to provide free internet access to over 20 lakh poor families through K-FON.