Kochi: The Kerala government's ambitious plan to provide Internet connections to BPL families, government offices, hospitals and schools has taken off.
According to a recent cabinet decision, Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL) and Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) will jointly set up a special purpose vehicle for the project.
The government's move to provide free or low-cost Internet connection had elicited mixed reactions when the project was announced earlier this year. While some said the move will help in increasing Internet and mobile penetration in the state, others pointed out that it is a difficult task.
Internet over power lines allows relatively high-speed digital data transmission over public electric power distribution wiring. With this, one can plug one’s computer into any electrical outlet in one’s home and instantly have access to high-speed Internet.
Kerala Fiber Optic Network
K-FON (Kerala Fiber Optic Network) will have an outlay of Rs 1,028.2 crore. While the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) has allotted Rs 823 crore for the project, the KSITIL will raise the remaining amount.
Broadband Internet connection will be supplied through KSEB's high-tension power supply line which will eliminate the need for underground cables.
The high-tension lines are available till substations, from where cables will be used to take connections to offices and houses using more than 40 lakhs of KSEB’s distribution and transmission posts. Regional agencies will be roped in for this last mile connectivity.
The Internet connection will be utilized for e-governance purposes in government offices, while it will also be able to provide telephone, Internet and cable television connections to households.
About 12 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families will be given free internet connection. However, monthly rates for others are yet to be finalized.
About 2,000 WiFi hotspots will be set up across the state, from where end-users such as schools, hospitals, offices and houses will be provided connection.
District collectors have chosen public places where WiFi hotspots will be set up. Government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) has won the tender for setting up the hotspots, which include libraries, parks, bus stands, government offices and tourist places, among others.
KSITIL and KSEB will have equal shares in the company. With the technical help of IT Mission, KSITIL is working towards floating a tender for providing cable connection for the core network. It aims to finish the task in 18 months.
Internet is a basic right
The IT policy of the state had stated that access to Internet is a basic right. The K-FON project will be a positive step in this direction.
Studies point out that if the leftover 1% of the population is covered under the umbrella of Internet services, the GSDP could jump up by 2.5%.
Internet will help in improving productivity across the board. It is expected that the move will help in finding newer markets and help government corporations like Supplyco step into e-retailing.