KFON gets operational permission from Centre


Thiruvananthapuram: The Central Department of Telecommunication on Tuesday issued an order granting Infrastructure Provider Category-1 License (IP1 License) to Kerala Fiber Optic Network Limited (KFON).

IP1 License is the authorisation to provide internet bandwidth to tech-enabled service providers like OSPs (other service providers) and telecom companies.

Confirming the same through a Facebook post, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said: "With this, Kerala's prestige project has acquired operational permission." The State expects to receive the project's Internet Service Provider license soon as well, he said.

His post further said: "Through KFON, the LDF government declares that access to internet is a basic right of the people. This scheme, which will provide free, low-cost and quality high-speed internet to all, is also the Left government's alternative to the corporate forces dominating the telecom sector."

As per the official registration of the Department of Telecommunication, KFON will have the authority to acquire, manufacture, maintain and repair fiber optic lines (dark fiber), duct space, towers, networks and other necessary systems, and to rent, lease or sell the same to telecom service license holders.

“The State government launched KFON to primarily put a halt to the exploitation by private cable networks and mobile service providers. This scheme, envisioned through the power and IT departments of the State, will help bridge the digital divide in the society,” said Pinarayi's post.

What is KFON?

KFON is an audacious project of the State government aiming to obviate the digital divide. This project is to be a complementary infrastructure to the existing telecom ecosystem in Kerala. KFON is based on the principles of non-discriminatory treatment, as per the recommendations of TRAI, i.e., without any preferential treatment to any service provider or business segment.

It essentially acts as an information super-highway through the creation of a robust core and middle-mile infrastructure. This network can be leveraged by any provider at any level of the business segment to augment their connectivity gaps at their core network without the burden of stringent RoW and intensive CAPEX requirements.

The networks created by these operators at the community level can then connect to KFON and deliver access and services to underserved areas that may otherwise be financially unattractive for mainstream providers.

In due course, this model can lead the market forces to act and increase competition in providing better connectivity services to the citizens. The government can even explore delivering e-Governance services to citizens through such networks.

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