UK scheme to bring £98 PCs to the marketplace

A new initiative launched this week in the UK is aiming to bring affordable computing to the masses by offering a PC that costs a mere £98. Race Online 2012 aims to sell 8,000 refurbished computers by the end of the year, but head of the scheme Martha Lane Fox told the Financial Times that she hopes to bring the internet to the UK's "final third", with 9.2m adults in the UK currently without access.

From a technical standpoint, details are scarce, but what is known is that the systems will ship running a version of Linux and will come pre-installed with various other open-source offerings. On the hardware front, a keyboard, mouse and flat screen are included, but the £98 also includes extras such as delivery and telephone support. A special deal has been negotiated with mobile giant Three to offer customers a rate of £9 per month for mobile broadband, or a lower rate of £18 for three months.

In an effort to avoid competition with the current market, the systems will be sold in a variety of online centres, complete with training and support. Plans have also been made to offer the system through charities, as well as using job centres and unions to raise awareness. Due to a lack of public funding however, Race Online are dependent on multiple commercial funding sources, such as Microsoft, BSkyB and the BBC.

According to Race Online, over 350,000 jobs are advertised only online. Ms Lane Fox is hoping that by removing the price barrier from computing, the 9.2m British adults without internet access will be able to take advantage of the opportunities available online.

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