Martha Lane Fox unveils £98 Linux PCs to get UK online

Cost of hardware still a barrier to entry, says government's Digital Champion...

Cost of hardware still a barrier to entry, says government's Digital Champion...

The UK's 9.2 million internet-less adults are to be offered sub-£100 refurbished PCs to persuade them to get online, under a scheme announced by Martha Lane Fox, the government's Digital Champion.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Lane Fox argued price can be a barrier to entry for the final third of the population who still haven't logged on. "Motivation and inspiration are still two of the biggest barriers, but clearly perception of price is another big deal for people," she said.

"Although research shows going online can save people around £560 year, we know the cost of setting yourself up at home is still a real barrier for lots of people," added Helen Milner, MD of internet support organisation UK online centres, in a statement.

Disabled employment services and kit recycling company Remploy is running the low-cost E-cycle PC scheme, which launched in pilot form this week. The PCs will initially be sold through 60 UK online centres that offer computer courses and support to internet newcomers.

Prices for the refurbished hardware will start from £98 for a PC with a flat screen monitor, mouse and keyboard running Linux and featuring an office package with warranty, telephone support and delivery. Internet connectivity will be provided by Three Mobile - with one month available for £9, or three months for £18.

Remploy's E-cycle website portal will offer various cost, connectivity and payment options for the low-cost PC scheme. People will be able to pay online or offline using Payzone, which allows cash payment at more than 20,000 sites including local convenience stores, garages and Post Offices.

The company said 200 computer packages have been set aside for the pilot but it expects to sell around 8,000 over the next 12 months.

"Remploy E-cycle provides another economically and environmentally friendly option for first-time buyers - and it's designed specifically for those new to the internet," added Milner.

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