Kerala launches KFON to bridge the digital divide with affordable internet

The Kerala government on Monday launched the Kerala Fiber Optic Network (KFON) program to take a step towards digital empowerment. The goal is to provide internet access to all households across the state that live below the poverty line (PPL).

“The KFON program aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure that every citizen has access to the tremendous opportunities offered by the online world, especially as the internet becomes an indispensable tool for education, employment, communication and the access to government services,” Lekha P, project manager at KFON, told Business Standard in a phone interview.

According to the official, the internet connectivity project involves laying 30,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable network with 375 points-of-presence across Kerala. At an estimated cost of Rs 1,611 crore, KFON aims to provide internet connectivity to around 2 million BPL households, of which 14,000 households will be connected in the first phase. According to the project manager, in the first phase the Kerala government, with the help of the local government, has identified 100 BPL households in each legislative assembly.

#Kerala has realized the dream of becoming the first state with its own internet service!
CM @pinarayivijayan dedicated #KFON to the people. It provides free internet connections to 20 lakh families and bridges the digital divide by ensuring internet for all. — Government of Kerala | കേരള സർക്കാർ (@iprdkerala) June 5, 2023

The program also aims to provide connectivity to over 30,000 government institutions, from which connections to over 17,000 public offices have been provided, Lekha told Business Standard.

The program envisages internet speeds of 10Mbps to 10Gbps and plans to accelerate the transition to 4G and 5G once KFON is connected to cell towers.

The program is being implemented by Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) in collaboration with various stakeholders including the state Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), Bharat Electronics (BEL) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and was announced in the Budget Works under This project began in 2017 and began in 2019. According to Lekha, partnering with various stakeholders has enabled optimal use of existing power poles for laying fiber optic cables, reducing costs and ensuring faster network build-out and subsidized internet service.