Projecting the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) as a symbol of the alternative path pursued by the State government, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday commissioned the first phase of the project, aimed at providing free Internet access to 20 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families and connecting 30,000 government institutions, as well as providing Internet connection at nominal rate to the public. He said that by ensuring connectivity in far-flung places including Idamalakudy, it is being ensured that no one is left behind and everyone is a part of the real Kerala story.
“India has the highest number of Internet shutdowns in the world. There have been more than 700 Internet shutdowns in India in the last ten years. It is in such a country that the Kerala government is ensuring that the Internet is available to all. The K-FON project is becoming another example of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s and our State’s alternative policies. Universal Internet access is essential to keep up with the changing world. Through this, we are connecting the entire Kerala with the global information highway,” he said.
During the inaugural event, Mr. Vijayan interacted with K-FON beneficiaries from the Panthaladikkunnu tribal village in Wayanad, officials of a village office in Kottayam, teachers and students of a government school in Ottasekharamangalam and nursing student in Nilambur, through the K-FON network.
Mr. Vijayan said the project is also an alternative against the corporate forces in the telecom sector. The project was launched with the determination to free people from the exploitation of private sector cable networks and mobile service providers. The services are available at rates lower than other service providers. The services can be provided at high speed and with the same quality throughout Kerala, irrespective of urban and rural areas.
“There are many who have asked why the State government is implementing such a scheme when private companies are in the sector or what use would the common people have with Internet access. Those who think that nothing should be done in the public sector, and everything should go to the private sector, in the capitalist style of monopolisation, would ask such questions,” he said.
He also lashed out at Opposition Leader V.D. Satheesan over his allegations earlier in the day regarding corruption in the project.
“The Opposition leader has been making baseless allegations, including on cable quality. The Bharat Electronics Limited, a public sector company, is in charge of these activities. No one would normally question the credibility of such an organisation. In Kerala, neither public nor private sector companies have to spend money in any other way except for the project, which is evident in Kerala’s ranking as the State with the lowest corruption. Such allegations are being raised by people who think that our State should not progress in any manner,” he said.
Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal launched the K-FON commercial website www.kfon.in. Excise Minister M.B. Rajesh launched the ‘Ente K-FON’ mobile application. Power Minister K. Krishnankutty launched the K-FON modem. K-FON Managing Director Santosh Babu said that the network would ensure 99.9% uptime, with a promise to address faults within four hours.