Program subsidizes Internet access

Community Technology Network Project

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Residents of public housing in Ohio are the latest recipients of computers

and Internet service supplied through the Community Technology Network Project

(CTNP), a for-profit program that aims to provide underprivileged populations

with an affordable way to get online in their homes.

CTNP began in August and is operating in Indiana and Michigan. It's

the brainchild of Indiana-based Worldwide Communications Group Inc. (WCG),

which is partnering with companies such as Oracle Corp., Hewlett-Packard

Co., the New Internet Computer Co., Western Union Holdings Inc. and ATX

Communications Inc. to provide the computers and Internet access.

It was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Housing

and Urban Development.

The project is subsidizing 100 percent of all e-mail costs for the residents,

and up to 35 percent of the cost of the computers.

"This is a market that our partners will have to go after eventually,"

said T'ere Webb, senior vice president of marketing for WCG. "So the idea

is to get them involved now, and at the same time give these residents the

technology tools they will need to form a consumer base for the future."

WCG sees the program as enabling a large, underserved population to

become independent, contributing members of their communities. More directly,

it will offer people a means to communicate online with the government agencies

that are a big part of their lives, such as those involved with low-income

housing, food stamps, welfare and Medicaid programs.

One goal of the program is to convert the complicated paper-based annual

application process for housing assistance into a streamlined, standardized

online process.

Anyone in the United States may apply to join CTNP, Webb said, although

WCG has so far limited its marketing to the initial region. The next targets

are Illinois and Kentucky, she said.

CTNP is not involved directly with state or local governments, she added,

but information on the project will be openly provided if any jurisdictions

approach WCG about it.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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