KOCHI: A consortium led by Navratna PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) will execute the ambitious Rs 1,028-crore Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-Fon) project to build a statewide infrastructure which aims to give connectivity to all its government and educational institutions, besides offering internet services to citizens for free or at cheaper rates. The BEL consortium, which also comprises Railtel Corporation and SRIT India Pvt Ltd, was selected on March 8, just three days before the election Model Code of Conduct (MCC) kicked in, to avoid any controversy.
Three consortiums — the other two led by TCIL and A2Z — had bid for the project.RailTel is known for its rich experience in the domain of telecom and ICT field.It is currently implementing various mission-mode government projects including rolling out National Knowledge Network, National Optical Fibre Network and North East OFC project.
Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL) Managing Director C Jayasankar Prasad told Express that all three bidders were found technically qualified.
K-Fon project to be completed in two years
Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL) MD C Jayasankar Prasad said the BEL consortium, which quoted the lowest amount of Rs 1,300 crore (capital expenditure and operational expenditure for seven years included), was selected.
K-Fon is a 50:50 joint venture between the KSITIL and KSEB. Jayasankar said the project will be completed within two years. There were 1,000 types of qualifications set for companies to bid, including experience in setting up telecom and IT infrastructure.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers had completed the technical studies for the project. Of the project’s total outlay of Rs 1,028 crore, the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board has allotted Rs 823 crore, with KSEB contributing the remaining amount. 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.
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. Once K-Fon comes on stream, the government is confident there will also be big cost savings on its spending on internet service. The WAN will connect all government offices and schools, which will also ensure data security.