THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This is the real Kerala story. The reference is to the commissioning, on June 5, of the first phase of the prestigious Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) project by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The project is aimed at providing free internet access to 20 lakh Below Poverty Line(BPL) families, connecting 30,000 government institutions and providing net connection at nominal rate to the public. The Kerala Government’s flagship project is being hailed as a potent symbol of the alternative path pursued by the State. This is the real Kerala Story, thundered a visibly happy Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister said India boasts the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world. The last 10 years saw 700 internet shutdown in the country. It is against this murky backdrop that Kerala is ensuring internet to all, the CM said, adding that the K-FON has become another example of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government’s and Kerala’s alternative policies. Universal talent access is essential to keep pace with the changing world. Through K-FON, the State is being connected with the entire world, Pinarayi pointed out.
The project is also an alternative to the corporate forces operating in the telecom sector, the Chief Minister claimed. The project has been launched with the express objective of freeing people from the exploitation of private sector cable networks and mobile service providers. The services are available at rates lower than that of other service providers. The services will also ensure high speed and the same quality throughout Kerala.
The Chief Minister also took the opportunity to lambast the opposition parties. He accused the opposition leader V D Satheesan of making baseless allegations of corruption, including the cable quality, in the project. The Bharat Electronics Limited, a public sector company, is in charge of these activities, the CM averred.
While 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. According to K-FON managing director Santosh Babu, the network would ensure 99.9 per cent uptime, with a promise to address faults within four hours.
Meanwhile, as many as 7,000 families have got internet connections through K-FON till now, ahead of its official launch. In the first phase, a total of 14,000 households, with 100 houses in each of the 140 Assembly constituencies will get connections. The K-FON’s wide network has reached remote locations, including hamlets in the hill district of Wayanad and elsewhere, which had so far remained out of the information superhighway.
Incidentally, Kerala became the first State in the country to declare internet as a basic right when the first Pinarayi Government launched the project in 2019. The Government will provide Kerala Vision, the service provider chosen from among six contenders, Rs 124 per connection a month. Besides, K-FON has been successfully installed in 26, 492 government offices, of which 17, 354 have live internet access. This includes Government schools, many of which have been depending till now on more expensive connections.
Last but not the least, K-FON can benefit the tourism sector as well. For instance, a large number of tourists come to Kerala with the intention to live here and work from here. The K-FON can create a big movement by attracting people with such a mindset. (IPA Service)