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AMD rolls out low-cost Net access device in India
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Old 1st November 2004, 13:01   #1
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Default AMD rolls out low-cost Net access device in India

October 28, 2004 04:41:52 (ET)

BOMBAY, Oct 28 (Reuters) - U.S. chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD,Trade) has unveiled a low-cost Internet access device that could cost just a few hundred dollars, aimed at first-time technology users in the developing world.

Launching the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC) in India first, AMD will sell it with Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. ((VSNL.BO)), an international phone service and Internet access provider.

The PIC runs on a Microsoft (MSFT,Trade) Windows-based operating system and is part of AMD's plan to equip half the world's people with Internet connectivity and computing capabilities by 2015.

Part of the diversifed Tata group, India's second-largest conglomerate, VSNL will offer the PIC as a bundled service to broadband customers, including hardware and software.

AMD said the suggested price for the PIC itself was $185 with a keyboard, mouse and pre-installed software, or $249 including a monitor, but local providers would ultimately set the price.

Shashi Kalathil, head of VSNL's broadband business, told Reuters the firm had not yet finalised a price.

"We hope to eventually offer it for a few 100 rupees to 1,000 rupees per month ... over three years," he said. "The whole idea is to preclude making a huge upfront payment."

Besides Tata in India, AMD also announced customers such as CRC in Mexico, and Cable & Wireless Plc ((CW.L)) in the Caribbean.

CRC will sell it along with educational software in Mexico whereas C&W is promoting the PIC as support for disaster relief efforts in the Caribbean.

AMD said in a statement companies such as Solectron Corp. (SLR,Trade), Seagate Technology ((STX.N)), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. ((005930.KS)) and Macromedia Inc. (MACR,Trade) had participated in the development and manufacturing of the PIC.

Global Internet penetration is about 10 percent, so with the population estimated to reach 7.2 billion by 2015, AMD said there was a lot of scope to move billions into the digital age.

In India, Internet penetration is pegged at just 0.4 percent, and broadband penetration at 0.02 percent, in a country of more than a billion people. Usage is hobbled by high costs and archaic wireline telecoms infrastructure. Users now pay about 750 rupees for a 100-hour connection running at 50 kilobits per second.

India said earlier this month it aims to have 20 million broadband and 40 million Internet users by 2010, and much of that growth is expected to come from wireless technologies.

India has a low-cost computer called the Simputer, short for a simple, inexpensive, multilingual computer, made under licence from the non-profit Simputer Trust and using free Linux software.

Samyeer Mitrani, general manager at Bangalore-based Encore Software Ltd. ((ENCO.BO)), told Reuters its Simputer cost between 11,250 and 22,000 rupees ($246-$482), with a modem-enabled device for Internet access available from 14,450 rupees. ($1E.69 Indian Rupee) (Additional reporting by Naryanan Madhavan in Bangalore)

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