The National Trade Union Corporation (NTUC) of Singapore has agreed to provide 300,000 low-cost PCs to its members through a partnership with PeoplePC.
PeoplePC says it will work with the NTUC to provide branded computers and free Internet access through a monthly subscription plan, and will replace the units every three years. Subscribers will also get comprehensive service back-up, including hotline support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; special deals and offers for members; e-commerce offerings; and customer service support and training.
The arrangement will be a boon to people who telecommute — a number that is in the millions worldwide, and growing — according to the International Telework Association and Council. The growth of home-based work has so far occurred mostly among office workers, but the trend is beginning to spread into the industrial and services sectors.
Closing the Gap
“Around the world, employers, unions and governments are beginning to realize that technology is the key to developing people, companies, and economies to their fullest potential,” said PeoplePC CEO Nick Grouf.
The NTUC hopes that providing a low-cost opportunity to go online will enable more workers to acquire the IT skills that can help them become better equipped to survive in the New Economy.
The NTUC said that even though Singapore has one of the highest computer literacy rates in the world, “more should be done to prepare every Singaporean for the opportunities of the digital age.”
Singapore in the New Economy
Singapore has been positioning itself to become a powerhouse of the New Economy. The country announced a three-pronged plan last month designed to double its “infocomm” — or information technology and telecommunications — revenues to $23.2 billion (US$) by 2005. The plan calls for broadband expansion, innovation, and alliances with key e-commerce countries and companies.
The agency behind the push, Singapore’s Infocommunications Development Authority (IDA), also hopes to increase the export component of infocomm revenues from 50 to 70 percent and to increase the number of broadband users from 100,000 to 200,000 by the end of the year.
Corporate Connectivity Movement
PeoplePC is also providing low-cost computers and Internet access for up to 450,000 employees at Ford Motor Co. and Delta Airlines.
The company says that its agreement with NTUC is the first overseas corporate connectivity program by a U.S. company.