The Indian state of Kerala just declared that access to internet is as basic as the access to food or water, and is working on a plan to provide free WiFi to everyone in the state. Notably, Kerala has a population of more than 34 million and has one of the highest literacy rates in India.
Finance Minister Thomas Issac made the announcement and declared WiFi as a basic human right. In turn, the state council announced that it will move towards providing WiFi for free to two million citizens from low-income communities; the other 32.8 million would receive the service at a low rate.
The project has been named K-Fon (Kerala Fibre Optic Network) and plans have been made to lay optical fibre cables parallel to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) lines.
The move is line with the direction provided by the UN, which believes all people must be able to access the internet to exercise their right to freedom of expression and opinion.
“Internet will now become a right for the people and within 18 months the internet gateway would be set up through the K phone network at a cost of INR 1,000 crore ($151,291,000),” Thomas said.
Notably, Kerala also has high internet penetration, covering about 20% of households through broadband and another 15% through mobile.
In 2015, Eraviperoor village gram panchayat of Pathanamthitta district in the state of Kerala had announced that it will offer free WiFi to its residents and with this Eraviperoor had become the first grama panchayat in India to facilitate free Wi-Fi to the general public.
Now in the recent financial budget of Kerala, the state government plans to extend broadband connectivity to every house in the state and have WiFi hotspots at a range of public places.
The experts however says that the K-FON project would take 10 years to break even as the project includes setting up a massive wide area network (WAN) connecting all government offices and schools in Kerala. K-Fon will be a joint venture executed by Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd KSITIL and Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).
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