Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Connecting the Unconnected for £98

We have seen the start of a government drive to address the great unconnected in the UK. If may be ensuring all have the same opportunity in school, or empowering the unemployed to chase jobs, or connecting the elderly to improve their lives, but the need for cheap computers to bridge the digital divide closer to home is now gaining attention.

Martha Lane Fox, the UK government’s digital champion, is determined to bridge the gap and is looking to lower the cost of computing and broadband. She wants to see a £98 package, which includes equipment and connection support.

One initiative is being undertaken by Remploy. The company is setting out to refurbish and sell cheap PCs and estimates that it can sell 8,000 this year at a cost of £98. The kit will come preloaded with open-source software, include a flat-screen monitor, keyboard, mouse, warranty, telephone helpline and delivery. Another initiative is Race Online 2012. This scheme is aimed at reducing the cost of mobile broadband and has already struck a deal with Three where broadband could be available for £9 a month or £18 a quarter.

The £98 package will be sold through 60 UK online centres, which will also offer training and it is also hoped to sell the PCs through charities. Race Online is also working closely with unions and job centres to raise awareness of the program.

If commuting becomes as invasive to all as say TV, then we start to see even greater opportunities acrooss communities, in allowing everyone access to compare prices and selectively buy cheaper goods, apply for some of the 350,000 jobs a year that are advertised only online and connect to those friends and family that will only be a click away. Such a transformation will also change how we deliver information, interact with businesses and how we spent our leisure time.

No comments: