Govt. forms panel to study monetisation of KFON

Proposal is leasing out the unused fibres to private players after providing Internet connection to BPL families and govt. offices.

Published - July 16, 2022 06:25 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The State government has constituted a committee headed by the Chief Secretary to study possibilities of monetising the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON).

The proposal is for the monetisation of the unused fibres to private players after providing Internet connection to below the poverty line (BPL) families and government offices. The committee consists of the Finance Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary (IT), Vice Chancellor of Kerala Digital University, and the KFON Managing Director.

Out of 48 fibres that are part of the network, KFON will be using 22 for its own operations, while the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) will also be using a few. The rest can be leased out, with an aim to generating money from the network, to fund the operational and upgrading costs. The network will incur substantial upgrading costs in the years ahead. The network currently has a capacity for one lakh connections, beyond which upgrades will need to be done, according to KFON officials.

Free Internet connections to 14,000 BPL families, with 100 families from each of the State's 140 constituencies, will be provided as soon as the list of beneficiaries from each local body is submitted. The Local Self-Government department is currently in the process of putting together the lists from various local bodies. Out of the six shortlisted service providers, the lowest quoted amount is understood to be ₹124 per connection per month, an amount which the government will subsidise for BPL families. Connections to 30,000 government offices will also be provided in this phase. The installation of ground-level infrastructure in most of the government offices have been completed.

KFON had earlier this week secured the Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence from the Department of Telecommunications, in addition to the Infrastructure Provider (IP) category 1 licence. It will now also have to satisfy various compliances required of an ISP, including that of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), DoT and other requirements as part of the Telegraph Act.

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