Intel announced on Tuesday that it will give free Pentium III desktop PCs and unlimited Internet access to each of its more than 70,000 workers worldwide by the end of the year. The new benefits program follows similar initiatives launched earlier this year by Delta Airlines and Ford Motor Company, although Intel's program provides more extensive system packages, as well as Internet and service support, than previous corporate offerings.
Increasingly, companies are hoping that programs giving employees Internet access at home will pay dividends by giving them a more high-tech savvy workforce. In addition, such benefit programs may help companies keep or attract talent in what is currently a very competitive market.
"We want our employees and their families to participate fully in the Internet revolution," said Craig Barrett, Intel's president and chief executive, in a statement announcing the program. "An Internet savvy workforce supports our mission to be the pre-eminent building block supplier to the worldwide Internet economy. We see these employer-based programs as a positive trend illustrating the importance of technology literacy to us all."
Intel is not disclosing which hardware manufacturers and Internet service providers (ISP) it will be working with, according to company spokesman, Seth Walker.
The chip manufacturer will begin delivering the PCs to full- and part-time employees in the third quarter. Once workers are given the systems, they are theirs to keep, Walker said. Each Pentium III system will come equipped with a printer, keyboard, mouse, monitor, the Intel Create and Share camera pack, office productivity software, unlimited-use Internet service, technical support and the choice of one Intel Play product.
Under the program, Intel workers will have access to information about corporate benefits programs, training and communications via PCs and the Internet. "We're delighted to offer employees and their families the ability to take advantage of the education and e-commerce opportunities on the Internet," said Patty Murray, Intel vice president and director of human resources. "The Intel Home PC Program is the right new benefit for the year 2000." Intel officials said the program will be offered on an ongoing basis, and is not a one-time offer. In addition, employees will get periodic "refreshes" to ensure that their hardware and software stay current.
Workers will also have the option to upgrade their systems, peripheral devices and connectivity by contributing to the price of the system. Options would include notebook platforms, processor and memory upgrades, broadband access and peripherals. Each employee is eligible to take advantage of the program -- even those who are part of the same household.
"We hope that many other companies will choose to offer such a program to enable their employees and families to experience the Internet and get ready for the connected e-home of the future," said Doug Busch, Intel's vice president of information technology.