UK government to offer PCs for 98, Internet for 9

By on January 17, 2011, 11:04 AM
The UK government wants to offer low-cost computers as part of a 12-month trial during Race Online 2012. The scheme, which aims to reach out to the 9.2 million adults that are not yet online, 4 million of whom are considered socially and economically disadvantaged, aims to "make the UK the first nation in the world where everyone can use the web."

Prices will start at 98 ($156.01) for a refurbished PC, with subsidized Internet connections available for as little as 9 ($14.33) a month or 18 ($28.65) for three months. The cheap computers will run open-source software (think Linux) and will include a flat-screen monitor, keyboard, mouse, dedicated telephone helpline, delivery, and even a warranty. The cheap Internet packages will use a mobile dongle to help people access the web.

"Motivation and inspiration are still two of the biggest barriers [to using the internet], but clearly perception of price is another big deal for people," Martha Lane Fox, the UK's digital champion, told the Financial Times. "A good price point is certainly part of what helps people get online."

The packages will be sold through 60 UK online centers which offer IT training and distributor Remploy, an organization that specializes in helping disabled and disadvantaged people find work. Remploy hopes to sell 8,000 machines in the next 12 months. The company's research has shown that going online can save people around 560 a year and that thousands of jobs are offered exclusively online, but the cost of owning a computer and Internet connection is often seen as a deterrent.

User Comments: 11

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Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This sounds interesting.

The fact that it's a mobile dongle and it's the UK government, I'll put a guess in that £9 a month gets you around...What, 10 emails and 30 seconds of youtube? Or maybe 40 seconds at a push?.

Guest said:

I think the idea is good, however the current UK infrastructure is severely outdated and desperately in need of an upgrade since most home with internet still use telephone wire with a max speed in my area of about 1.5 MB/s. I wouldn't want Joe Schmoe googlin his butt off and slowing my more expensive internet even more.

Guest said:

Rather ironic at a time when the UK "government" is slaying benefits for disabled people and demonising the long term unemployed, whilst closing local youth and adult unemployment centers.

Rather ironic selling these devices so cheaply when basic literacy and numeracy is needed to operate them, though the UK "government" is also choosing to cut free basic adult (post 24) education.

IT is not a solution when its cover for a lack of humanity and actually working face to face with people.

Guest said:

My guess would be that with the current EU legislation it's cheaper for them to redistribute used computers than it would be to send them for mandatory recycling. And this is a Government scheme, right? So the "dongles" for web access don't have to follow any accepted standard? What are the chances they will work in the newly freed up UHF TV bands?

Peet McKimmie

Aberdeen, Scotland

Guest said:

Well Peet I suspect that the dongles will work exactly like every other wireless dongle on the market. GAsp. they may even just be de-badged versions of existing dongles, as the UK gov is not in the business of designing their own wi-fi system. Granted £9 a month is what a basic internet connection would cost.. but thats enough to benefit from the full internet juice. No diluted muck here. People will use it for the "wrong" purposes, but in the end they'll get to know what the internet is and how useful it can be. I dont wont these people looking for jobs online tho ... its more bloomin' competition.

Guest said:

The Computer Establishment Act of 2012! K. James the VIth would be proud.


Guest said:

Ok they're cutting benefits, they're slashing support for the disabled, fuel prices are skyrocketing while incomes are falling but somehow these guys are going to be conjuring up 100 notes to buy a second hand computer. Because that's what's missing from their lives, and that's going to be their priority to spend a hundred quid on; a second hand computer.

Guest said:

No wonder this country is so broken down:

My mobile internet costs £6.67 a month and it's not subsidised.

So the government subsidy, in these difficult times, is not only useless to the customer, it's actually WORSE than useless because it fruitlessly damages the nation's finances.

They clearly have an internal recruitment and training problem that needs to be sorted out urgently.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

My mobile internet costs £6.67 a month and it's not subsidised.

Holy smokes, that's not a bad monthly payment. Take a look at pay as you go from someone like O2, £15 a month for 2GB....It's just pathetic.

Guest said:

This is a good idea for the less fortunate but there is no mention of who they apply to for this computer deal the goverment is offering

Guest-borg said:

Sounds like a good idea. But I wonder who will qualify to get one. There will probably be half a dozen forms to fill in to get on the waiting list to be considered.

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