Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government would take up the role of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) also when the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) becomes functional. Even though the initial plan of the government was to act only as an Infrastructure Provider (IP), it has now applied for the licence to be an ISP also with the Union Ministry of Communications.
“As an ISP, the state government can earn income to recover the expenses involved in providing free connections to government offices and people living below the poverty line (BPL families),” said an official.
“Licences for being the infrastructure provider as well as internet service provider are expected to be issued within a week,” he added.
On completion of the work by June 30, K-FON – a joint project of Kerala IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL) and Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd – is supposed to make Internet available in 30,000 government institutions and 14,000 BPL families.
Earlier, K-FON had invited tenders to provide Internet at a speed of 15 Megabits per second (Mbps) to BPL families. While Kerala Vision had quoted the lowest amount, the authorities had not finalized the deal. In fact, the government had issued instructions to wait till the IP and ISP licences were obtained.
Meanwhile, the government had invited another tender to identify a company to provide bandwidth services, in which several private telecom firms as well as the central government undertaking BSNL evinced interest. Until this tender procedure is completed, K-FON would utilize the services of Powergrid.
Earlier, the state government had instructed K-FON customers other than government institutions to depend on other internet service providers. However, with K-FON applying for ISP licence now, it would be able to legally provide internet connections to any individual or institution.
Meanwhile, with the IP licence, K-FON could lease out to private institutions facilities such as point-of-presence centres, network operating centre, unused fibre and other infrastructure. K-FON would also be able to buy bandwidth from telecom firms and provide services by charging a fee.
In short, K-FON would compete with other ISPs already in the market and earn revenue. At the same time, private ISPs are yet to react to the latest move of K-FON.
“We don’t believe that K-FON’s decision to be an ISP would dissuade private companies planning to enter the sector,” said Dr Santhosh Babu, the managing director of KSITIL.
Cables along 30,157 km
Under the K-FON project, cables would be laid at a length of 30,157 km in the state. However, work on 5,218 km is not being taken up at present considering ongoing road development. As a result, around 5,000 offices will not be provided the connection now.
According to authorities, cabling has been completed for 21,404 km till Monday, reaching 21,886 offices. Internet connections have been given to 8,855 offices, they added.