While announcing the state budget for 2017-18, Kerala’s finance minister Thomas Issac mentioned that Internet will “become a right for the people” and that within 18 months, the state would spend Rs 1,000 crore to set up Internet gateways across Kerala, reports IANS. The government also aims to provide free connections to 2 million families who cannot afford Internet connections, while other citizens will get connections on subsidized rates.
Kerala government’s subsidized Internet connection is somewhat similar to Tamil Nadu (TN) government’s Arasu Fibre service. In March last year, the Tamil Nadu government started providing Internet services to all households through its telecom unit named Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV). TN’s subsidized connections are being provided at a cost of Rs 299 per month for a 2 Mbps connection with a 2GB monthly FUP limit. The most expensive plan costs Rs 899 per month for a 4 Mbps connection with a 40GB monthly limit.
Apart from this both TN government and Maharashtra government have their own WiFi hotspots set up at important locations. In January, the Maharashtra government installed 500 WiFi hotspots across Mumbai city and planned to install another 1,200 hotspots by May. The TN government, on the other hand, said that it will offer free WiFi facilities in 50 public spaces and internet in 50 schools across the state.
Govt to infuse Rs 10,000 crore for BharatNet
Last month, the government announced that it will allocate Rs 10,000 crore as part of the budget 2017-18 for BharatNet, a government-owned rural wired broadband project. The budget proposed that by 2017-18, high-speed optic fiber will be available for over 1 lakh Gram Panchayats as part of Bharat Net. At that time we had pointed out that a government fund infusion into fiber connectivity would affect how the telecom industry looks at the wired broadband sector. More on that here. Currently, BharatNet is present in 59,000 gram panchayats spanning a distance of 137,515 km of optic fiber.