By Barnaby Chesterman
Batelco has joined forces with major PC manufacturers to offer a value-for-money Internet and PC package to help increase Internet usage throughout the country
Batelco, Bahrain’s monopoly telecommunications company, has launched a nationwide scheme aimed at increasing PC-ownership and Internet usage throughout the country. Batelco has teamed up with four major PC manufacturers to make the Internet and PCs both affordable and accessible to almost everyone.
Batelco selected four vendors, Acer, HP, Dell and Compaq to supply the PCs through their national distributors. The inet package costs just BD 22 ($61) per month for 30 months. For that customers will receive one of the branded PCs, free inet monthly subscription, 10 free Internet hours per month, free Internet helpdesk support, free hardware helpdesk support, free installation and delivery, and free training sessions.
Customers will also have only one point of contact, through Batelco, for the whole process, even though the different support areas are carried out separately by the ISP, the vendor and the distributor. The inet PC package was introduced on December 23, and so far there has been an average of 45 applications processed per day.
All three parties involved in supplying the PCs and Internet to customers have subsidised various costs and arranged the attractive financing option to help push the growth of both PC-ownership and Internet usage throughout the country. A Batelco spokesman said, “Through this special scheme, Batelco hopes to promote Internet and computer literacy within the community. Such schemes also come as part of the company’s continuous efforts to introduce services with value for money.”
Despite it seeming almost like a giveaway, vendors and distributors were still eager to participate in the scheme. Dinesh Narayan, Acer Computers ME regional manager, said, “The way we benefit is by getting more users because the PC becomes more affordable. The available market to us will increase.”
Batelco set certain basic specifications for the PCs used in the scheme, such as they must have Pentium III processors and at least 128MB of RAM and 10GB hard disk drives. Any additional features are up to the manufacturers to compete with each other. Narayan insists that despite the low selling price, all parties will still cover their costs and then reap longer-term benefits.
“Customers may want to come back and upgrade their PC or buy a scanner or pay for the next level of training,” he said. “Greater Internet usage and PCs sold will help us both in the immediate and in the long term.” Acer’s local distributor, Computer World is also pleased to be a part of the scheme. CEO, Adel Al-Safar said, “Computer World is very pleased to partner Batelco in encouraging Internet usage in Bahrain.”