Intel Seeks to Bridge Digital Divide

This week, Intel announced that it will spend more than $1 billion over the next five years to help provide developing countries with computers, Internet access, and other technologies. Under a program it calls World Ahead, Intel will provide wireless Internet access to 1 billion people, train 10 million teachers to use technology in their classes, and provide more than 10,000 PCs for use in classrooms.

"This clearly is viewed by us as being good for the world and for Intel," said Intel CEO Paul Otellini. But Intel isn't spreading technology for the good of humankind alone—the company also believes there's a profit to be had. By helping developing nations acquire technology, Intel is growing its market. "There is a solid commercial payoff for it," Otellini said.

In addition to its World Ahead efforts, Intel is also helping design low-cost PCs specifically for developing countries. The company has already demonstrated a prototype PC designed for India, where heat and dust cause unique problems for electronic devices such as PCs. And soon Intel will unveil a $400 prototype laptop that it believes PC makers will begin selling in 2007. Unlike other PCs currently being designed for developing countries, Intel's design focuses on full-featured computers with hard drives and modern CPUs.

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