UK government to offer PCs for 98, Internet for 9

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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.


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