The first stage of the program launched in France in early January and will see the company distribute 110,000 Internet-ready PCs for home use by summer.
Industry experts say Vivendi Universal's PC give-away could increase Internet use by 2 percent to 3 percent na-tionwide. At present, about 10 million French residents use the Internet on a casual or regu-lar basis at home and/or in the workplace. The Vivendi Universal offer could easily add an addi-tional 250,000 home users to this total.
Vivendi Universal employees participating in the program will pay a $2.75 per-month use-fee over a three-year period aimed at covering li-mited taxes linked to the giveaway.
Internet access will be provided free,excluding telecommunication costs, in a joint venture between U.S.-based PeoplePC, which is coordinating the home PC program, and Vivendi Universal-owned portal site Vizzavi.
Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.