Vivendi-Universal plans PC giveaway

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Franco-Canadian communications, media and utilities giant Vivendi Universal is to give free personal computers to 260,000 employees worldwide.

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.

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