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Bommai asks Centre to fund Rs 4,300 cr Karnataka Optical Fiber Network

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai asserted that there is a need to set up Karnataka Optical Fiber Network (KOFN) as the Centre's BharatNet project has limited reach and availability.

By: PTI | Bengaluru |
Updated: September 8, 2021 10:52:17 am
Basavaraj BommaiKarnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. (Express Photo)

Stating that 25,000 government offices and institutions in Karnataka are facing internet connectivity problems, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday demanded that the Centre allow setting up of Karnataka Optical Fiber Network (KOFN) and bear the total cost of Rs 4,300 crore.

After a meeting with Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Bommai informed reporters that the previous chief minister had also flagged concerns about the state facing huge challenges in providing reliable G2G and G2C services due to the limitations of Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN).

“I have requested the minister to increase the network and broadband to the state,” Bommai told reporters.

In the meeting, Bommai asserted that there is a need to set up KOFN as the Centre’s BharatNet project has limited reach and availability.

Besides, the chief minister highlighted telcos’ poor presence at gram panchayat level, lack of capabilities of telecom firms to provide connectivity to certain locations from state headquarters to gram panchayat level, as other issues.

“This has led to state not fulfilling the connectivity requirement of about 25,000 government offices and institutions, who are looking forward for a reliable and high-speed network,” he said in a representation made to the Union Minister.

Seeking the Centre’s support for the proposed KOFN, Bommai requested the Union Minister to bear the project cost of Rs 4,300 crore which includes maintenance of the network for 15 years.

He also requested the minister to advise BSNL and BBNL to provide one pair of optical fiber core free of cost from Bengaluru headquarter to gram panchayats until the BharatNet PPP modelled network is operational.

Further, the chief minister demanded that the Centre provide 1-2 fiber pairs between Bengaluru headquarter and gram panchayats immediately after operationalisation of the BharatNet project free of cost.

“With this, I once again would urge and request you to kindly consider to fund the project at a total cost of Rs 4,300 crore, exclusive of taxes,” he added.

Sharing the salient features of the proposed KOFN, Bommai said it aims to connect about 25,000 government offices and institutions from the state headquarters to gram panchayats, of which 50 per cent of the offices are present at gram panchayat level.

This will help various state departments to access state’s data centre, he said.

Bommai also informed that the proposed KOFN aims to provide robust network connectivity to all the government offices and institutions, while BharatNet is aiming to provide connectivity to citizens at gram panchayat level and beyond including development institutions.

Therefore, the project objectives of KFON and BharatNet are completely distinct, he noted.

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