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UK To Offer PCs For £98, Subsidized Internet Connections

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the where's-your-non-television-license? dept.

Government 224

Sam writes "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."

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224 comments

Change that into windows (5, Insightful)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925366)

I fear the "open source software" will be very quickly replaced with "windows", just like what happened with the OLPC.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925370)

And will probably be a pretty half assed linux distro, instead of a usable one...

Re:Change that into windows (4, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925386)

If over a decade of Linux distros has taught us one thing, it is that one man's "half assed" is another man's "usable".

Re:Change that into windows (-1, Offtopic)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925398)

or "if you want it to work you can write it yourself". Which is the attitude that moved me towards Mac OS X.

Re:Change that into windows (2)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925466)

The target audience will not be moving to the mac.

Re:Change that into windows (-1, Flamebait)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925552)

I dunno, they could probably steal one easy enough.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925578)

Unstable distros offer me more security than any Windows release. (Except Windows ME)

Re:Change that into windows (1)

Ross D Anderson (1020653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925830)

What?? Are you implying Windows ME was the most secure windows? If this was a joke then let me be the first to Whoooooosh myself

Re:Change that into windows (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925860)

If it is unusable(or flat out does nothing), it must be secure - nothing on it to steal. I guess that's what GP was going for...

Re:Change that into windows (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925938)

Windows ME is the most secure OS ever written. Even malware won't run on it!

Re:Change that into windows (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925414)


  I've been saturated with Unix-peanut-gallery effluvia for so long that it no longer even surprises me when every question — no matter how simple — results in someone suggestion that you either A) patch your kernel or B) change distros. It's inevitable and inescapable, like Hitler.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925506)

Of course the cost would go up by about $100 if Windows was used. Assuming bulk VLK licensing issued for to government contracts get a 20% discount per copy. I feel reluctant linking to the Microsoft products price page ... so so dirty...

Re:Change that into windows (2)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925518)

I think they would gladly make an "exception" here and offer it for free.

Re:Change that into windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925558)

If these are refurbished PC's then they probably already have a Windows Licence.

Re:Change that into windows (2)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925730)

Read the licensing agreement, you must have the original installation media to reinstall Windows, the code on the back isn't good enough.

A local computer repair shop was sued recently by Microsoft. They were reinstalling fresh copies of windows on used computers, using the computer's original product key.

Re:Change that into windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925812)

Please could you post a web link to this (if available)? It would make interesting reading.

Re:Change that into windows (2)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925936)

National software giant Microsoft is suing a Lincoln company, QuickTEQ Computers, alleging that it has been selling reproductions, copies or imitations of Microsoft's copyrighted materials."

http://journalstar.com/business/local/article_34265f5e-7e42-11df-8512-001cc4c002e0.html [journalstar.com]

The articles I can find don't have much detail. Sorry.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925836)

This sort of thing depends on national law, I remember in The Netherlands there has been a court case where it was established you can (re)use the paid for key to install an equivalent OS.

But to prevent a support nightmare they're obviously better off with a Linux distro.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926030)

Good point, either way its a situation I would try to avoid. Even if it is legal, they could end up with a variety of similar but different OSes to support. (Win XP home, pro, x86, x64, maybe even flavors of vista.) If they all use the same Linux distro it makes things simple.

Re:Change that into windows (2)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925644)

Dont forget about the hardware cost, They cant possibly offer windows XP, with it being EOL (only extended support for businesses), so these system would need the hardware to run windows 7, which would cost more then a system capable of running XP/ubuntu

Re:Change that into windows (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925560)

The problem with linux is that it does not get investments because of small visibility. These kind of action would give visibility.
MS will not allow UK government to do that.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925842)

Not flamebait but judging by history a valid point!

Re:Change that into windows (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925718)

just like what happened with the OLPC.

You mean, you fear that it won't? Is this some convoluted ex falso quodlibet argument? I fear that you will be destroyed in a nuclear fireball, just like what happened to London in the Second World War.

Re:Change that into windows (4, Interesting)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925814)

I'm not so sure.

These are especially elderly and others that have never been in a position 'to get used' to the Windows environment.
I've set op Linux computers for such people and they just don't know any different.

But after they had visiting family & friends I sometimes have to reassert they really don't need anti-virus.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925902)

The argument MS would make to the government would be that "knowledge of Windows is a marketable skill, as a majority of the people are using it." in a sort of circular argument.

Re:Change that into windows (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925972)

Since more people use Google than just use Windows (since you can access Google from desktop, mobile, etc) and Google runs on Linux, knowledge of Linux is a marketable skill, as a majority of people are using it.

Wow (2)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925368)

I think this is a great move. Kudos!

Re:Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925402)

[blockquote]I think this is a great move. Kudos![/blockquote] You're probably only saying that because you're not British and won't have to pay for it. Personally I can think of better uses for my tax money than subsidised internet connections for chavs. What next? Subsidised skiing holidays?

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925462)

My t-mobile package costs £8 per month - I get a brand new LG Optimus One, and 3GB per month. That's a pound cheaper than the proposed mobile Internet package being offered here. "Subsidised internet connections for chavs"? I don't think so. Personally, I can think of far worse things to subsidise than tacking social exclusion.

Re:Wow (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925508)

This works out to £6 per month over three months. Anbd that suggests there's n lock-in period.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925622)

It's either £9 for one month, or £6 per month for 3 months - did you mean lock in for them, or lock in for me? If me, you're quite right - my £8/month deal is on a 2 year contract. My point was that £9 per month (or even £6 per month with 3 month lock-in) is not obviously subsidised. Certainly not in the order of "subsidised ski holidays", and a damn site more useful in terms of tacking "the digital divide". The BBC [bbc.co.uk] suggest that Race Online 2012 has "negotiated" this deal, not that uk.gov has subsidised it, and that seems credible to me.

Re:Wow (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925740)

It's not far off current prices, and they're looking at doing it over the next two years. I'm not sure exactly how they will implement it. I'd do it by setting up a government-owned virtual mobile network - £6/month is probably more than the wholesale price for mobile data, so you can then even make a small profit.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925468)

You forgot to add "it's political correctness gone mad!" and "what about those of us that work hard for a living?"

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925470)

Not me. I live in the U.S. and I think we should have done this long ago, particularly laptops for kids. It's pathetic beyond belief that people in 'First World' nations still grow up today without computing devices. Poor parents love their $30,000 SUVs but detest spending $300 on a device that might change their child's life.

Re:Wow (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925748)

My parents bought their first computer when I was around 6. It was a 286 Packard Bell running dos 6 I think. It was a pos, but Im extremely grateful they got one, because it was what got me interested in computers.

Re:Wow (0)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925516)

I don't see why the chavs need this anyway. All the ones that live near me have already have PCs, mobile phones, cars, PS3s, Sky Sports subscriptions, etc all thanks to their generous benefits payouts.

I thought we were supposed to be cutting back on government spending, I'd like to know how much the dedicated helpline they're promising will cost for starters...

Re:Wow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925542)

I don't see why the chavs need this anyway. All the ones that live near me have already have PCs, mobile phones, cars, PS3s, Sky Sports subscriptions, etc all thanks to their generous benefits payouts.

Exactly. If they still can't afford internet access even after all the benefits they get chucked at them and their sixteen kids, maybe we should look at stopping them wasting it all on booze and smokes before we start offering them extra on top.

Re:Wow (1)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925566)

Don't forget all the Lotto scratch cards! ;)

Re:Wow (1)

mikael (484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925858)

My local newspaper used to have a cartoon based on this theme - one time there was a punchline, "Aye Hen, if it weren't for the beer, fags and bingo, we wouldn't be able to afford to stay on the social (security)".

Which in a way is true, because of all the tax duty and prices on these items (box of 40 cigarettes = $10, 7/day = $70, beer = $4/pint, 7/week = $30, bingo = $20/week).

Funny thing is, once all a smoking ban came in place in public areas, the bingo halls went out of business. All of the money spent on slot machines went on cash prizes for the bingo games. Originally, when the punters played bingo they would smoke as they played and play slot machines after they finished. But once there was a smoking ban, they would rush outside, ignore the slot machines, have a cigarette and go home with their winnings.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925568)

Quite. The "chavs" are not the poor and socially excluded that this project is aimed at. But Daily Mail readers like to conflate them as an excuse not to deal with the problems of the seriously disadvantaged.

Re:Wow (2)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925570)

Well, the idea of this is to save money. One of the ways of decreasing poverty is to increase opportunity. The idea is that it initially costs money, but they then have greater access to jobs and training and ways of saving money e.g. online quotes for essentials like home insurance and utilities. My experience of "chavs" (I totally hate that word) is that the stereotype person wouldn't fit this profile anyway: most have access to the Internet and have games consoles, smartphones etc. anyway. This initiative seems to be aimed at the "make do and mend" genuinely poor, who don't have Internet access because it's a [false] economy.

Re:Wow (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925788)

Yup, articles I've read about this scheme (I didn't RTFA, obviously, but it's been popping up in my news feeds for a few days) say that having Internet access can save you an average of £537/year. I'm not sure exactly where this number comes from, but it's certainly possible.

Utility companies now offer discounts for paperless billing. I do my supermarket shopping online and it costs £3.50 to be delivered, which is less than the cost of a return trip on the bus from my old house to the supermarket (and that's ignoring the opportunity cost - it takes about 10 minutes to do online, or an hour or so to do in person, so I gain some time when I could be earning money. Or, more probably, reading Slashdot). I just bought some kitchenware in an online sale and it was under half the price of anywhere local. Places online are significantly cheaper than local shops for things like books.

And, of course, without Internet access I wouldn't be able to do the work that I do. I'm a freelance writer and consultant, and most of the work that I do is for people on other continents. There's no way I'd be able to do that if I had no Internet access. This means that almost all of my earnings are a net gain for the British economy, which is something that I'd imagine that the government would want to encourage.

Re:Wow (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925582)

What next? Subsidised skiing holidays?

Some people already get that. I knew a guy who always had social workers working with him, and every so often they'd contribute for him to go off on his ski-ing holidays. He had a really nice flat too, and didn't even have a job. He had "learning disabilities", but he also was just a selfish asshole who wouldn't even try when he did have a job. He'd just throw some tantrum, insult his boss, get fired and go back to lazing around on his leather sofas watching his big screen TV.

Re:Wow (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925970)

My father just got made redundant and decided to consider a change of career delivering yachts. He managed to get sent on training for this - which basically involved a long holiday on a boat. He's been getting calls from customers of his former employer wanting to hire him as a consultant, so he probably won't actually make a career out delivering boats, but he's certainly enjoying the taxpayer-subsidised holiday...

Re:Wow (2)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925634)

When I lived in the UK (I'm back in South Africa now) anyone could use a computer in a public library for free... You had to have a library card (also free to sign up for) and were only allowed an hour per day, but it suited me and it cost me nothing. I frankly don't see why this particular thing is necessary, and I agree with you, tax money could probably be better spent on something else. I reckon if someone doesn't have a computer in the UK these days it's more because they don't want one than because they can't afford one.

Re:Wow (2)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925704)

The problem is the current UK government is busy planning to close 100s of libraries. Just yesterday it was announced Kensal Rise library is closing, that was opened by Mark Twain of all people.

Re:Wow (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925710)

When I lived in the UK (I'm back in South Africa now) anyone could use a computer in a public library for free

Yeah, but you can't have a wank to Internet porn in a public library.

Re:Wow (1)

tapanitarvainen (1155821) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926128)

you can't have a wank to Internet porn in a public library.

Around here (Finland) it seems quite a few people do, at least if some librarians are to be believed...

Re:Wow (1, Informative)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925648)

laugh all you want, but here in holland, most cities give people who are on government support 400 euros every so many years to buy a new TV, because god knows there is no way those people could survive without a 32 inch flatscreen!

I am all for stuff like universal healthcare, but things like this makes me feel like im living in commie country..

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925804)

laugh all you want, but here in holland, most cities give people who are on government support 400 euros every so many years to buy a new TV, because god knows there is no way those people could survive without a 32 inch flatscreen!

I am all for stuff like universal healthcare, but things like this makes me feel like im living in commie country..

You are living in commie country my friend.

A fellow dutchman

Re:Wow (0)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925458)

Agreed. How can all people in a society truly be equal, until even the most disadvantaged can waste away every moment of their life on facebook and masturbating to scat porn!

Also, how does this make the UK the first nation where everyone can use the web? In America, we have these things called libraries that are subsidized by the tax-payers. They used to carry books by the zillions, but now mostly just carry DVDs and have banks of internet connected computers for the public to use and the occasional stack of periodicals for the smelly homeless guys to make a pillow out of in the lesser used dewey's.

Re:Wow (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925500)

In America, we have these things called libraries that are subsidized by the tax-payers.

So do we, although not for much longer with the budget cuts...

Internet not very cheap (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925384)

My mother can get 3G broadband for 12 AUD per month. Thats the same as USD at the moment and its in a country with low load factors and expensive infrastructure.

Re:Internet not very cheap (4, Insightful)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925438)

It's not too bad, really, though I think you might be able to do better with some careful shopping on ebay and using public wifi. The big difference is that you'd be getting support from these guys, rather than depending on a computer geek friend. That's important to a lot of people.

Re:Internet not very cheap (2)

Nick Fel (1320709) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925448)

Welcome to the UK. Our £/Mbps/month has always sucked.

Re:Internet not very cheap (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925562)

Yes, you can get upto 8mbps in the UK for £5 on a decent ISP, or even free with some package deals, so I'm not sure why this subsidised internet still costs £9. That doesn't sound very subsidised to me, I suspect in typical inept British public sector style the government chose some pet contractor like Capita or similar to run the scheme and that pet contractor is trying to milk it from both ends by getting paid by the government to provide broadband to these folk and by running an ISP that turns a profit from these people too.

Re:Internet not very cheap (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925588)

Wireless broadband on PAYG. You can get a much cheaper rate if you agree to a lock-in period, or go for ADSL.

Re:Internet not very cheap (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925818)

Yes, you can get upto 8mbps in the UK for £5 on a decent ISP

And a big fat [citation needed] there. If you are using ADSL, then you have a £10.50 line rental to BT, plus whatever your ISP charges. If you have a LLU exchange, then you might be able to pay £6-7 line rental to some other company. If you go with cable, the cheapest package is £20/month.

With ADSL, that's assuming you are in an urban area. My mother lives in North Devon and can only get a little over 1Mb/s from her 'up to 8Mb/s' ADSL because she's so far from the exchange. This is an area which has a lot of people in the demographic targeted by this program (few jobs, very high property prices because people from London keep buying second homes in the area, underfunded local council). Move a little bit further away from the city and you get no ADSL at all, but you can still see UMTS signals.

Re:Internet not very cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34926000)

I live in hull where there is a monopoly by Karro for the Internet and phone lines. cheapest package is £20 for an up to 24Mbps, and then most people dont get over 3Mbps, I only get 1.2Mbps. on top of that line rental is about £30-35. You cant even get a BT line in this city. even if you are with sky you still have to pay full whack and you are not entitled to the broadband and phone package. I dont know how the government will pull the internet side of this off in Hull. there is no LLU or FTTC/E at all. There is also a faulty network so the internet connection is usually lost for about 3 hours a week on top of that you cant even leave the ISP for failure of service unless the internet is down for over 70% of the time.

Re:Internet not very cheap (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925942)

Yes, you can get upto 8mbps in the UK for £5 on a decent ISP
If you are getting ADSL at that price in the UK and it's not a time limited offer you are on a really shitty ISP, heavilly traffic limited or most likely both.

Further pretty much all internet prices in the UK assume you either already have a fixed BT phone line* or will be taking (and paying for) phone service/line rental (some phone providers quote for line rental and call packages together, some quote for them seperately) from the provider as well. Afaict dry ADSL exists in theory but most ISPs either don't offer it or at least don't post prices for it online. The voice line rental effectively pays for the upkeep of the line.

Our cable company do offer internet on it's own but even in urban areas coverage is fairly spotty (unlike ADSL which afaict is availiable pretty much anywhere that is close enough to an exchange) can get that and it's relatively expensive.

* by which I mean a line physically provided by BT openreach, the phone service may or may not be provided by BT.

Re:Internet not very cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925652)

Except you get fuck-all reception and bandwidth outside of major metro areas (Capital Cities: Melbourne, Sydney etc.)

Cheap computers for the asses (-1, Redundant)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925410)

You can soon buy these for £50 at the amazon.co.uk.
At least some of the disadvantaged are poor alcoholics/narcotics addicts. They will quickly sell the computer to get a fix.

Re:Cheap computers for the asses (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925424)

Uh, doh. I ment ebay.co.uk.

Re:Cheap computers for the asses (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925602)

Though you can sell your own stuff on Amazon.co.uk too, so what you said didn't strike me as strange :P In fact I often buy from Amazon 3rd party sellers, but rarely look for stuff on eBay unless I need car parts.

Re:Cheap computers for the asses (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925650)

I'd be more worried about the asses. You need to buy a keyboard that doesn't skip letters... :p

Re:Cheap computers for the asses (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925722)

Well, that was supposed to be a pun :/

Re:Cheap computers for the asses (1)

ego centrik (1971902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925798)

_ you missed the point, that your "addicts" don't get it for free. People have to pay for it. So what's the the catch in purchasing it for £98 and sell it for £50?

It's thinking .

Nice idea but... (5, Insightful)

hughbar (579555) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925422)

I live in the East End of London and am already involved in this kind of approach, but on a small scale and informally. So I think it's a a pretty good approach to supply of the basics and a better way than just stripping down perfectly viable PCs.

But, the big but, is training and support. Here Linux [we're mainly Ubuntu and variants] is slightly better because it doesn't get trashed by viruses immediately and file permissions etc. make things easier to lock down. However, I've spent 7 years on/off training people and the web, email, looking for stuff, deciding whether to trust sites etc etc. is NOT intuitive and searching, especially, is a hard subject.

So, without training, many of these PC will be underused and languish, as so many provided under various schemes do now. We prefer drop-ins currently, they're more sociable and mean you can train/help several people at once and they can provide peer support and discovery. Also, the connections can be consolidated and needn't go through mobile networks.

Just my 2p [that's a pence, non-UK folk] on this.

Re:Nice idea but... (0)

Tim C (15259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925480)

file permissions etc. make things easier to lock down

I really don't understand that statement - are you trying to say that Windows doesn't support fine-grained file permissions?

Re:Nice idea but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925572)

So, without training, many of these PC will be underused and languish,

What do you mean by "underused"? Not everyone has to be online every waking hour. Would you say that my TV set is underused because I typically just use it to watch the evening news instead of spending hour upon hour in front of it every day?

We prefer drop-ins currently, they're more sociable

Not everyone is sociable, though, and not everyone likes having to do their stuff in public (and I'm not just talking about porn). Not to mention that quite a few things aren't possible like that, anyway - shooting someone a quick email, quickly checking something online, chatting with your kids (or parents) in the evening, and so on. Basically, anything that isn't planned (and plannable) in advance.

Re:Nice idea but... (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925854)

What do you mean by "underused"? Not everyone has to be online every waking hour.

Example problem: The person needs to buy something.

Typical Slashdot reader solution: Go online, compare prices, find the cheapest, place an order.

Typical solution from someone in the target demographic: Go to local shops (possibly paying bus / or tube fare), look in a few shops, buy one, take it home.

End result: Slashdot reader pays somewhere between 10-50% less and has more free time.

The point of this is not that everyone should have Internet access because we think the Internet is cool, it's that being online can save you money. The number that they are quoting is an average annual saving of £537. But you only make that saving if you actually use the Internet. Just having access doesn't magically make you that much richer each year. Giving people computers and Internet access without the relevant training to go with them is just a waste of time.

Re:Nice idea but... (1)

RabbitWho (1805112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926064)

Kids learn really fast though, if a lot of those families have kids in them they'll figure out how to use everything in a few weeks and can teach their parents, not to mention they probably do ICT in school.

nothing new under the sun here... (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925526)

In my opinion this is pretty similar to the schemes we have in Finland. Sonera, DNA and ELISA all have different schemes to provide easy Internet access to people and they've had it for a couple of years at least by now. However, they are all subscription type deals where you commit yourself to the deal for 12-24 months, then you can get a computer as cheap as 24 euro/month + 10 euro for the internet connection (incl usb-stick) and as a bonus you get 3 months of Spotify premium... or something like that ;)

Re:nothing new under the sun here... (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925660)

It looks like the US is planning on doing something similar [arstechnica.com] as well.

Too good to be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925528)

Not to be the bearer of bad news , but Im sure the government will be corrupted by microsoft eventually http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/364438/microsoft-moves-in-on-marthas-98-pc-scheme [pcpro.co.uk] ...

Re:Too good to be true (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925872)

On the plus side, it looks like Microsoft is offering Windows 7 Starter Edition - the version that has horrible process limits and various other crap. If anything's likely to put people off Microsoft, it's Windows 7 Starter Edition...

Mobile internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925610)

Now all they need to do is get mobile coverage into the rural areas where the internet have-nots live. If you're more than 14km (in copper) from an exchange then there's every likelihood your mobile coverage is too shit for a decent data signal as well.

Re:Mobile internet (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925880)

I'm not convinced by that. I was getting 50KB/s downloads via my phone when I visited my mother (in rural north Devon) for about a year before ADSL was enabled on her exchange. Even now, she only gets 1Mb/s from ADSL.

Institutionalizing poverty (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925614)

Nothing like keeping the herd docile, eh?

Ben Franklin:

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

No doubt the US will be right behind.

Re:Institutionalizing poverty (4, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925840)

Teaching them how to use a computer isnt "leading" the poor?

Your right, we need some tough love like, not feeding them, or allowing them to have heat in the winter!!

Thin that herd out, amiright? /sarc

Re:Institutionalizing poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925852)

Because giving poor people the right tools to participate in the digital economy is not empowering... you're an idiot.

First nation... (2)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925672)

"make the UK the first nation in the world where everyone can use the web". Right.

Most scandinavian countries probably reached this goal at least 5 years ago. The last person I knew who didn't have a computer (or internet connection) was my great-great grandmother, who died in 1997. My grandmother got her computer (winpc) and some kind of Windows 95 certification (that included IE) around 1996... And younger people are not less technical.

Sure, you can probably find some hermit out in the forests of northern Sweden who don't have any internet connection (or electricity), but I don't think that really counts.

In other words, great initiative, but there's no need to make up silly claims like that.

Re:First nation... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925706)

So... wait... let me get this straight... You read the summary???

Immobilised PC with a Mobile connection (1)

elh_inny (557966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925682)

That's retarded a desktop PC with a crappy mobile Internet Connection.
Either sell Desktops with Broadband or laptops with dongles.

And the prices aren't that spectacular - I've bough second hand PC for less than that so I don't see what's so great about this?

Re:Immobilised PC with a Mobile connection (1)

mikael (484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925890)

A mobile Internet connection would probably be more suited to someone is on low income - many already don't bother with telephone landlines because they are constantly moving around due to job market conditions. Having to install, test and disconnect an ADSL connection every few months because they are moving home would be too much hassle. Even with cable TV, it is something like $50 to install.

Re:Immobilised PC with a Mobile connection (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925924)

The specs are about the lowest I can still give away. I have a few P3 and Athlon systems in my attic that no one wants. They do come with TFT screens, which is quite nice (I also have a huge pile of CRTs no one wants, but spare TFTs are a bit rarer - people tend to hang onto them until they break).

Yeah but no but Yeah but... (2)

DaveDerrick (1070132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925728)

The issue here is that not everyone in the UK wants to get online.

Wither ? (1)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925792)

I really hope this takes off, but I suspect that by the time Microsoft, the hardware manufactures and retailers have made their "representations" to the government it will die before it starts.
I think these kind of initiatives will, unfortunately, remain with charities and keen individuals at a local level.

Are you serious!? (1)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925816)

"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."

So, wait, geeks and nerds are now getting free computers in the UK!?

Re:Are you serious!? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925984)

free computers

Wow, that's a step beyond normal Slashdot behaviour. Most of us don't read the article. Some don't read the summary. But you didn't even read the headline!

Some people don't want to go online (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925844)

In the same way some people are happy without TV some don't care about the internet. My mother is one - she leads a perfectly happy and fulfilling life never using google or youtube etc even though she could easily afford a computer. Why do people think this is abnormal and there has to be "something done about it"? If you don't have to work from home over the internet then having internet access is merely a nice-to-have rather than an essential. I wish some people in the IT industry would understand this.

Re:Some people don't want to go online (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926012)

Try reading TFA. They claim that being online can save an average of over £500 per year. This includes online shopping, paying utility bills online, and so on. A person on minimum wage takes home about £10K/year. Being online saves them about 5% of their income, which works out as a massive increase in their disposable income.

If people don't want to do this, that's fine and no one is forcing them to.

My mother is one - she leads a perfectly happy and fulfilling life never using google or youtube etc even though she could easily afford a computer

Then she's not the target for this program and is completely irrelevant. It's aimed at people whose standard of living could be improved if they had Internet access, but who can't afford it currently.

Re:Some people don't want to go online (3, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926088)

Try reading TFA. They claim that being online can save an average of over £500 per year. This includes online shopping, paying utility bills online, and so on. A person on minimum wage takes home about £10K/year. Being online saves them about 5% of their income, which works out as a massive increase in their disposable income. If people don't want to do this, that's fine and no one is forcing them to.

You missed that this is about the UK. If you are on minimum wage, you won't qualify for any of these things that are for the "poor and needy". You have to be unemployed. In the UK, moving from unemployment to minimum wage means you lose your benefit income, which is tax free, and get an income from employment which can be less, and you have to pay tax on it. So you have less money, and then you will notice that your kids will have to pay for a school trip, while your neighbour who was clever enough not to get a job will have his kids going for free. You will also not get one of these free computers, while your unemployed neighbour will.

Re:Some people don't want to go online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34926042)

In the same way some people are happy without the telegraph some don't care about the telephone. My mother is one - she leads a perfectly happy and fulfilling life never calling anyone even though she could easily afford a telephone. Why do people think this is abnormal and there has to be "something done about it"? If you don't have to call people for work from home then having a telephone is merely a nice-to-have rather than an essential. I wish some people in the telephone industry would understand this.

Good way to dissuade people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34925918)

> with subsidized Internet connections available for as little as £9 ($14.33) a month

So they'll receive a contended, slow, intermittent connection that doesn't work when they actually want to go online, and eventually they give-up and let their subscription lapse.

Broadband service quality is directly proportional to cost. Anyone paying less than 30 UKP per month in the UK is undercutting the actual cost of the connection and fooling themselves.

For example TalkTalk, the largest UK ISP by subscription, allocates 150 kBps of backhaul per user so that they can "offer" monthly costs under a tenner.

Re:Good way to dissuade people (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926036)

They're talking about mobile broadband, which is fast enough for web browsing (online shopping, bill payment, and so on). I know a few people who paid about this much for their Internet. They were geeks, but they had high-speed connections at work so only needed something for email and light browsing at home.

Swedish internet still cheaper (1)

pEBDr (1363199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34925946)

Pretty funny that Swedish non-subsidized 3G internet is actually cheaper. Going from around $10-11. Praise the socialist dictatorship!

Cue Ms pooing themselves and offer XP, real cheap (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926008)

MS know they can't let any real Linux contender in (like Ubuntu) so they will offer a cheap (maybe even free) XP copy for each of these. Then they will say that people should learn software that is out in the real world, i.e Windows and Office. Of course, most of us are smart enough to know that a) it's only cheap/free while there is competition, b) MS software changes to, so people shouldn't learn specific software, but software in a more general sense.

I want dont get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34926022)

Goverment want to do a lot of things, doesn't mean it will happen. But I guess it allows them to think up a new TAX?

It seems that I could get PC's for about half that price, that could run Ubuntu and access the Internet. So someone is going to be getting rich quick scheme. I offer my assistance for 50% commission!

Slow as molasses... (1)

Retron (577778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34926098)

Fantastic! I bet the people around where I live will really enjoy the ~30kbit/s connection they'll get from their Three dongles on these new PCs. There are hundreds, if not thousands of villages where 3G coverage is nonexistant.
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