KOCHI: By November-end or early December, it will be known which agency will implement the Rs 1,028-crore Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) project, the initiative which promises to offer internet services to citizens for free or at cheaper rates.
The bidding for the ambitious project will be opened on November 5 and the project will be awarded to the qualifying implementing company as early as possible. “We hope to award the contract by this month or early next month,” said Remya R S, company secretary and finance manager, Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL).
She said there were 1000 different types of qualifications set for companies to bid, including experience in setting up telecom and IT infrastructure. The company which will be awarded the K-FON project will have to complete it within two years of getting the contract, Remya said.
K-FON is a 50:50 joint venture between the KSITIL and KSEB. Global consultancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) had completed the technical studies for the project.Of the project’s total outlay of `1,028 crore, the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund has allotted `823 crore. The remaining amount has to be contributed by KSEB.
The laying of fibre optic cables over KSEB’s high-tension power supply line will be completed in 18 months. K-FON was first announced by Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac in the 2017-18 budget.
Free internet to 2 lakh households
The KIIFB website says K-FON will digitally connect 33,000-plus government institutions and provide free internet to two lakh households. The project will also connect 152 engineering colleges in the state. Once K-FON comes on stream, the government is confident there will also be big cost savings on its spending on the internet service. The WAN will connect all government offices and schools, which will also ensure data security.