RealTime IT News

Spain's Government Will Subsidize Computers for Net Use

In a move that promises to promote greater Net access and fight software piracy, Spain's government announced plans this week to give money to every citizen who buys a new computer and gets online.

The program approved by the Ministry of Public Works and the Economy, as revealed this week in the leading daily EL PAIS, will earmark 30,000 pesetas ($185) for all Spaniards with proof of purchase of a computer running a registered operating system and evidence of an account with a local ISP.

The government will reportedly invest more than three billion dollars over the next four years to promote citizen use of IT and telecommunications services. The announcement, the result of months-long negotiations between government and computer industry representatives, follows last month's decision to fund greater public Net access for rural and disadvantaged sectors of the population.

With only six million personal computers used by a population of forty million at the end of last year, Spain continues to lag behind European neighbors like Germany, France and the UK in term of PC ownership.

Approximately 25 percent of Spaniards had access to a PC, though only seven percent reported using the Internet. Roughly five percent were regular users. The flurry of "free" Net access offers by Telefsnica and new telecommunications competitors this year has created expectations of greater Net use.

Such subsidies on the part of the Spanish state are not uncommon. Similar government strategies have included subsidizing the purchase of newer, less-polluting automobiles in exchange for older trade-ins.