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RealTime IT News

Taipei Authorities Offer Free Internet Training

Beginning this month, the Taipei City Government is offering every city resident three hours of free Internet training.

The training is part of Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's "Easy City" project, which aims to bring low-cost broadband access to every Taipei resident.

Much of the necessary rewiring work will be paid for by private-sector cable television operators, leaving most of the NT$3 billion (US$9.72 million) budgeted for "Easy City" in 2000 available for education.

"I want everyone to wake up and read an electronic paper, then use the Internet to check traffic conditions and see which parking garages still have empty places," Ma was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Taipei City Government has been offering free e-mail accounts to locals since October. So far, more than 70,000 city residents have taken advantage of the service.

Other cities around Taiwan have followed suit, most recently Taichung, the island's third-most populous municipality.

Ma is not the only Taiwanese politician pushing Internet use. On an islandwide level, candidates ahead of March's presidential election have been pledging to place more government services online and improve the ratio of PCs to school students.

Currently, Taiwan schools have an average of one computer per 18 students.

In Taipei, it is now possible to use the Net to ascertain if a particular plot of land is zoned for commercial, residential or industrial use.

Online, the process takes less than ten minutes; off-line, it takes at least two working days.