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Intel Corp. on Wednesday officially launched a PC platform that has been developed exclusively to meet the needs of rural villages and communities in India as well as a special initiative that will allow rural communities to acquire personal computers (PCs). The actual systems were designed specifically for operation in extreme conditions of the country.

“Our experience shows that ICT (information and communication technologies) adoption in developing nations requires much more than providing a standard PC; the technology often needs to be adapted to the local usage and environment of a particular country or region. In addition to defining the platform and developing the ingredient technologies, Intel also collaborated with local hardware, software and service companies to deliver on the promise of the Community PC platform,” said William M. Siu, vice president and general manager of Intel’s channel platforms group.

The aptly named Community PC platform was defined by Intel after intensive ethnographic studies in rural India showed that a clear desire for technology access exists in remote rural communities. Unfortunately, weather conditions (heat, dust, humidity) and unreliable power sources can compromise typical PCs used in such environments. 

To address these issues, the Intel-powered community PC platform was developed to be a fully functional, expandable and shared-access computing solution. It is a highly reliable, manageable system that supports remote diagnostics and control features under low power requirements. The main peculiarities of the community PCs are:

  • Ruggedized chassis: the chassis has been designed to withstand dusty conditions, varying temperatures and high humidity. It has a removable dust filter and integrated air fan to regulate the temperature of the motherboard. The chassis is designed to keep the motherboard cool at temperatures as high as 45°C and the PC resistant to humidity levels of 70 to 85 RH (Relative Humidity).
  • CPSU: the PC is equipped with a customized power supply unit which is comprised of an integrated power supply and the UPS (uninterruptible power supply) unit, which allow the PC to maintain continuous load power in the event of a power outage.
  • Low power consumption: the total power consumption of all peripherals is less than 100W.
  • Access Control: the platform comes installed with a certificate-based access, allowing banks to verify the validity of installment payments against the purchase of the PCs.

It is yet unclear who will manufacture such computers, but a community PC was demonstrated by Gigabyte Technologies at CeBIT 2006 trade show in early March, 2006. The computer was based on Intel Celeron M processor as well as Intel 865GV chipset. The machine was equipped with specially designed optical drive and other functionality and capabilities of typical desktop machines.

Rural PC from Gigabyte. Click to enlarge

Intel also announced its “Jaagruti” (“awakening”) initiative designed to provide rural communities in India with greater economic and social opportunities. By collaborating with leaders in business, government, education, online services and Internet service providers, Intel’s Jaagruti program will support the spread of rural Internet “kiosks” based on the new Intel-powered community PC. These kiosks will help accelerate access to the benefits of information and communications technologies in villages across India.

Intel expects many of these Community PC platforms to be deployed in Internet “kiosks” common in Indian villages. The kiosks are operated by local entrepreneurs and provide neighboring communities with access to services such as e-Government forms (land records and marriage licenses, among others). This saves time and money for potential users who no longer need to spend an entire day and take multiple modes of transportation into the main city to complete necessary paperwork. They can now visit a local kiosk and have a kiosk “operator” input their data online quickly and cost-effectively. 


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