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Esat, IBM Team for First Net-PC Bundle in Ireland

Irish ISP and telco Esat Clear and IBM have launched Surf PC, which the companies claim is the first computer and free Internet access bundle to be offered in Ireland.

Surf PC intends to woo customers with a monthly fee of £32 per month. IBM will supply the PCs for the offering. The package also includes 10 hours of free off-peak Internet use time per month, following up on recent U.K. trends which not only offer free access but a discount on the high phone connection fees in the region.

Unlimited e-mail addresses and 10 MB of home page space are included in Surf PC, as well as free home delivery.

Esat expects the offering to significantly boost the level of home Internet usage in Ireland, which lags behind other European countries, and intends to take advantage of what it sees as significant growth potential, according to Lucy Gaffney, Esat Clear's managing director.

"Research carried out by Amarach Consulting has consistently highlighted that the absence of a computer in the home is the single largest obstacle to Internet usage. The objective of Surf PC is to make the process of accessing the Internet cheaper and hassle free," said Lucy Gaffney. "Esat Clear believes Surf PC will serve to not only remove this major barrier, but help significantly grow Internet usage and develop e-commerce in Ireland."

In August, Esat Clear rolled out Surf Free, a free Net access plan, and Surf NoLimits, a flat rate phone fee for unlimited use during restricted hours. Surf PC is the third arm of Esat's tactical offense to boost Internet use in the country, the company said.

Amarach surveys findings released last week showed that Ireland's online population has increased by 50 percent in the past year.

Esat Clear is a division of Esat Telecommunications Ltd, which in turn is a subsidiary of major Irish telecom player Esat Telecom Group plc (ESAT).