Initiatives in France to provide access to broadband Internet to the poor

Article

L’ADSL social, bientôt une réalité ? – DegroupNews.com (France – French language)

My comments and summary on this topic

The French government have taken a few positive steps in subsidising broadband Internet access to poorer communities by encouraging the provision of “tarifs sociaux” or “social tariffs”.

Through France Télécom, they are running a broadband plan of €6.00 per month for 43,000 of the most disadvantaged households rather than the traditional basic plan of €16.00 per month. The government are also looking at subsidising ADSL-based “triple-play” plans to the tune of €5-10 per month for poorer households based on a “social allocation” system. On the other hand, they will work with the industry to establish an industry-established “social fund” which can help with access-enablement programs.

They are describing it as a plan to end the social digital divide. But, in my opinion, there is still the issue of providing equipment of a reasonable standard to enable these programs. If the plan includes the price of any customer-premises equipment, the plan should include a router capable of 4 Ethernet ports and 802.11g WiFi access. Other issues that may need to worked on include whether the person has to supply their own computer or whether they could have access to modest equipment such as a netbook, nettop or low-end desktop or notebook for a low monthly fee. On the other hand, these people may end up with secondhand computer equipment that is supplied “as-is”.

As well, there would need to be some form of community assistance for people who are computer-illiterate. This includes help with the common computer skills such as sending and receiving emails, Web browsing, word processing and file management.

At least France has outlined some steps towards providing affordable Internet access to the poorer communities within the cities.

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