by CIO Staff

Intel Outlines Plan to Bridge India’s Digital Divide

May 23, 20063 mins
IT Skills

Intel will train 800,000 teachers for free in India over the next five years as part of a global strategy to integrate technology into the educational curriculum, company President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini told reporters Tuesday in Bangalore, India.

More than 550,000 Indian teachers have already been trained during the first phase of the program, started in 1999, Otellini said.

Training teachers on the use of computers is just one part of a broad strategy announced by Otellini to bridge the digital divide in India. Intel’s strategy is a holistic approach that includes making PCs more affordable, improving connectivity to India’s rural areas, and education, Otellini said.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, announced in May that it will invest US$1 billion over the next five years on new products, broadband connectivity and education for developing countries.

PC sales in emerging markets currently account for about 40 percent of worldwide PC sales, and are expected to account for 50 percent of worldwide sales by 2010, Otellini said. But if the growth curve is to be continual beyond that in emerging markets, Intel has to invest in making PCs more affordable, in improving connectivity using WiMax, and in education, he added.

Intel launched its Community PC in India earlier this year. The PC is designed to run off a car battery during power outages, and also to withstand the harsh environment in rural India. Intel is also introducing in India in the next two months a PC it calls the “Affordable PC,” which is designed for individual use. The company has tied up with PC vendors and financial institutions in India to offer the product on a variety of financing options, including rental. The Affordable PC will cost 20 percent less than a comparable PC using a Celeron processor, the company said.

Eduwise, Intel’s new notebook PC design aimed at students and interactive learning, is also a key element of Intel’s strategy. The product will be available in the first half of next year at a target price of less than $400, Otellini said.

To get its products to the rural markets in India, Intel is expanding its current base of resellers from 2,000 to 20,000, said G.B. Kumar, Intel’s director of marketing for South Asia.

Intel is also tying up with Internet service providers to offer broadband connectivity using WiMax. For example, it has linked with Videsh Sanchar Nigam of Mumbai to offer broadband connectivity at Internet cafes at India’s railway stations, Otellini said.

The company has also worked since last year with the local federal and state governments on nine Government Assisted PC programs (GAPs) that involve local PC vendors, nongovernmental organizations, software vendors and banks. A million PCs have been deployed in India as part of these programs. Intel is adding four more GAPs in India this year, Otellini said.

-John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

For related news coverage, read Ballmer Inks Deal to Reduce China’s ‘Digital Divide.’

Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.