As part of a new program run by the Federal Communications Commission to expand the number of Americans with broadband internet access, Microsoft and its hardware partners will team up in 2012 to deliver new $250 computers to low-income families.
This new program, called Connect to Compete, was first announced last month and families had to have at least one child enrolled in the free school lunch program, and receive two years of broadband internet access (for $10 a month) from companies like Comcast, Charter, Cox, etc. On top of that, the families would receive a $150 refurbished PC from Redemtech.
So why the program? According to the FCC, more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies today, including Wal-Mart and Target, require online job applications. Students with broadband at home have a 6-8 percent higher graduation rate as compared to similarly situated students without broadband at home. On top of all that, fifty percent of today’s jobs require some technology skills – and this percentage is expected to grow to 77 percent in the next decade.
Now, Microsoft is working on making its own line of brand new, low-cost PCs avaiable through this Connect to Compete program. The PCs will be $250 and will include Microsoft’s Windows and Office products.
Of course, no one knows exactly what the details are just yet. One can only assume what the specs are, who the hardware partners are, and what version of software is pre-installed in the cheap computer.
In an interview with the SFGate, the FCC states, “It’s a win-win for our overall economy and for all companies in the broadband economy. If we can get broadband adoption to 100% we will have doubled the size of the online market in the U.S.”