Virtual Communities scores giant ACTU deal

Internet company Virtual Communities yesterday finalised one of Australia's largest Internet and PC bundle deals for the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Australian Retirement Fund (ARF).

As reported in ARN on the 10th of November, the 2.1 million members of the ACTU and the 400,000 members and 20,000 staff of the ARF will have access to hardware from IBM and Internet access provided by Primus for an initial $60 down payment, then $9.50 a week over three-and-a-half years.

The offer includes an Aptiva PC and 36 hours of Internet access in the first week and 16 hours per four weeks after that. Additional minutes are charged at one cent. Customers will own the PC after the contract lapses.

Virtual Communities, who organised the whole offering and tendered out the hardware and ISP contracts, will manage the initiative and is providing the deal at cost according to Ed Smith, general manager of Virtual Communities.

"Virtual Communities is all about reducing barriers to getting people on the Internet. It's either too expensive or too complicated," said Smith. For this reason, the package includes delivery, set up and training.

Virtual Communities will reap the rewards of this philanthropic exercise when in January it will launch its content strategy and "various e-commerce initiatives" to the ACTU and ARF, as well as several football clubs, catholic churches and other funds.

The ARF has already invested part of its $100 million development fund into the Melbourne company. Smith said there had already been huge demand for the offer.

Other variants of the offer are the $11.50 a week education pack, which includes a colour printer and education software and the $12.95 a week business package, which comes equipped with a colour printer, education and business software.

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