Another effort in France to link the needy to the online world

Articles – French language

Emmaüs apporte Internet aux sans-abris –

Emmaüs Connect lance un programme d’accès à Internet | LeMonde Informatique

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Another effort is taking place to bring the poorer urban communities to the digital world in France. In that country, the ability to have decent broadband Internet and telephony is effectively a requirement in life due to the highly-competitive broadband market that exists there.

This is being set up by Emmaüs who help out the poorer people find housing and get a job. Emmaüs have formed a program called Emmaüs Connect which is to bridge the digital-divide gap to these communities.

This is being set up in conjunction with SFR and is based on mobile broadband technologies using a prepaid service. In France, 57% of the populace who live below an income of €900 / month don’t have access to their own Internet service. The Internet component is being considered important because of its relevance to performing personal administrative tasks such as paying bills; as well as finding work.

The Internet component is serviced by a 3G “Mi-Fi” router which is part of the prepaid service that works on a rolling 9-month contract.  Participants would be expected to pay up €1 per month to benefit from the program, which SFR refers to as the “Option Solidaire”.

Initially this program was rolled out around Paris but is being pushed out to other cities like Marseilles, Grenoble, St Denis and Antony. They are also targeting a rural area in Roanne so as to reach out to rural communities. There is a goal to set up 100,000 of these programs across France by the end of 2014.

Of course, this may be something that is scoffed at in the Anglo-American business world who value fast profit no matter the cost to others. But it is an activity being organised by a non-profit charity in conjunction with a regular telecommunications company and is something not to be scoffed at.

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