Government offers £100 computers to the great unconnected

The government is offering a computer and Internet connection for under £100 to unlucky Britons languishing in the hell of life without the Web.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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The government is offering a computer and Internet connection for under £100 to unlucky Britons languishing in the hell of life without the Web. Yes, for less than a ton, those poor unfortunates can become as happy and fulfilled as the joyously Web-connected digital darlings pictured above. Hurray!

Digital inclusion champion Martha Lane Fox is in charge of the low-cost IT pilot scheme, as part of the Race Online 2012 campaign. This encourages people to take advantage of the services and deals on the Internet to generally make their lives better. The scheme is aimed at those who find the cost of equipment is holding them back.

A mere £98 will net you a refurbished computer, flat-screen monitor, keyboard and mouse. The Internet connection comes courtesy of Three, and costs £9 for one month or £18 for three months. This can be topped up online or in cash at Payzone outlets such as newsagents and petrol stations.

The kit is from Remploy, a provider of specialist employment services for disabled people. The hardware has been 'e-cycled' by Remploy, which collects, wipes and refurbishes IT equipment. We've asked Remploy for more specific details about the kit. Other news outlets are reporting that the computers will be Linux-based.

Even tech-addled webjunkies like ourselves acknowledge that the Internet isn't for everyone, so there's bound to be some people happily getting on with their lives untroubled by the digital realm. 9.2 million adults in the UK are not online. Lord knows what they do with their time -- what do they stare at for 8 hours a day, waiting for something to happen? Trees? Hollyoaks? We shudder to think.

Aside from those living in broadband notspots, Remploy says 4 million of those sans Web are also socially and economically disadvantaged, so we applaud any plan to get them wired up to the world of YouTube, LOLcats and CNET UK. The pilot scheme has 200 low-cost packages ready to go, with a further 8,000 expected to shift over the next year.

Previous schemes to get the great unconnected interested in the Web have have included encouraging soap-opera plotlines that promote Internet use. As opposed to copping off with your best mate's fiancée or stealing babies or whatever fresh misery soaps are currently peddling.

What do you think? If you're used to reading Crave at school, work or over peoples' shoulders in Internet cafes, will you be tempted by a low-cost package for your home? Is there anyone you know who will be delighted by the chance to get on the Web for cheap, or are the luddites happy to get by without our inane witterings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.