|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Closing the digital divide near you
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Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Closing the digital divide near you
From: Ruben Safir
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Organization: Brooklyn Linux Solutions
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Date: Wed, 03 May 2006 04:25:01 -0400
SAN FRANCISCO, May 1 — Aiming to help close the so-called digital
divide, the Intel Corporation plans to announce a design for a sub-$400
educational laptop and a five-year, $1 billion program to train teachers
and to extend wireless digital Internet access worldwide.
The moves are intended to bolster Intel's reach into new markets, but
may also have an effect on the American market for computers in
The program is to be announced on Tuesday at the World Congress on
Information Technology, a conference in Austin, Tex., where Intel's
chief executive, Paul S. Otellini, will elaborate on it in a speech on
The initiative, called World Ahead, comes as Intel, the No. 1 chip
maker, is embarking on what it says will be a $1 billion revamping
program in the face of declining market share and a lagging share price.
It will roughly double what Intel is spending annually on training and
technology support in places lagging in digital development, Mr.
Otellini said in a telephone interview on Monday.
The company plans to support the computer training of 10 million
teachers around the world. It has already financed the training of three
million, he said.
He distinguished Intel's efforts from other campaigns with similar aims
by saying Intel would focus on full-featured computer systems with
enough power and memory to run Microsoft software.
Intel's rival chip maker, Advanced Micro Devices, has backed the concept
of reaching half of the world's population with inexpensive personal
computers by 2015, and Nicholas Negroponte, a co-founder of the Media
Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been designing a
sub-$100 notebook computer for educational use in developing nations.
Those machines have either been designed to run open-source software or
a subset of the complete version of Microsoft's standard desktop
The issue has been a highly charged one, both for political and business
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Mr.
Negroponte publicly debated the issue with Microsoft's chairman, Bill
Gates, and his chief technology officer, Craig J. Mundie, who suggested
that a better alternative to an ultralow-cost computer might be a
combination phone and personal organizer that can be fitted with an
inexpensive display and a keyboard.
On Monday, Mr. Otellini appeared to be making a point of defending the
utility of the Intel-Microsoft desktop standard.
"We don't think you cross the digital divide with old technology," he
said. "It doesn't need exotic technology and it runs real applications."
The new Intel design, to be called Eduwise, will include software for
the classroom. Makers of the computer are to be named later.
Mr. Otellini dismissed the possibility that the emergence of such
low-cost computers might cannibalize existing markets, saying that
low-end portable computers were already close to these prices in the
Mr. Negroponte, whose machine will have a handle, a hand crank and an
innovative display screen, is in discussions with Brazil, China, Egypt,
Thailand and South Africa to purchase millions of the notebooks.
He said that the Intel program was a step forward, but that focusing
efforts on training teachers had serious drawbacks.
"Anything is better than nothing," he said, "but teacher training is the
slowest way to improve global education and reaches very few rural,
remote teachers in very poor places."
He argued that a more radical and more efficient approach was to equip
children with technology. Intel has already announced several PC design
initiatives for specific regions, including a desktop computer for the
Indian market and another for Mexico. The Mexican machine is based on a
partnership with Telmex, the Mexican communications company and involves
a subsidy for a broadband Internet connection. The machine is priced
about 20 percent below the consumer market price for a similar machine.
In addition to training and access to computing, Intel's focus will be
on Internet connections. The company has already financed 175
experimental wireless networks using Wi-Max, a longer-distance version
of the Wi-Fi networking standard.
Intel executives have said they believe that Wi-Max deployments will
leapfrog stages of development in the nonindustrialized world.