Intel to Give Free PCs to Its 70,000 Workers

SAN FRANCISCO (03/07/2000) - Not to be outdone by older, less tech-smart industries, Intel Corp. will ride a trend started by Ford Motor Co. and issue a free Pentium III PC to each of its 70,000 workers worldwide, the company announced today.

The chip maker said its goal is to create a more Net-savvy workforce, which it said should help the company stay at the top of its industry. The company also wants to help its employees and their families participate more in the Internet economy, said Intel spokesman Seth Walker.

Starting in June, Intel will start doling out a "high-performance" Pentium III PC as well as unlimited free Internet access, a printer and other add-ons to each of its full- and part-time workers, Walker said. The company expects to have equipped all of its workers with PCs by the end of the year.

Intel hasn't put a dollar figure on the initiative, which it calls the Intel Home PC Program, but with high-end Pentium III systems selling for US$1,500 to $2000, observers said the bill should easily surpass $100 million.

Intel also won't say which companies will supply the PCs and the Internet access, although the chip maker is likely to "share the wealth among the big players," a source familiar with the matter said.

Automaker Ford announced in February that it would provide all 370,000 of its hourly and salaried workers with a computer, printer and Internet access for $5 per month. Delta Airlines Inc. followed suit later in the month, offering 72,000 employees a similar deal for $12 per month. [See "Ford Drives Employees to Web," Feb. 3; and "HP, IBM Chosen for Delta's 'Wired Workforce,'" March 1.]Intel, which said it's the first high-tech company to offer such a deal, said its offer goes one better: The PCs are higher-performance, the deal is free (apart from taxes), and the program will also cover retired employees. What's more, Intel will refresh the PCs and software from time to time to keep their employee's systems up to date, Walker said.

"We give a lot of credit to Ford; they showed a lot of foresight. We think this is something a lot of other companies are going to start doing," Walker said.

Intel, in Santa Clara, California, can be reached at +1-408-987-8080, or at http://www.intel.com/.

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