The great connection race begins to hot up

Intel is adding substance to its reconstruction investment efforts in war-torn Lebanon.

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By  Peter Branton Published  April 19, 2007

Intel's announcement last year that it was to invest in initiatives to help support the reconstruction of war-torn Lebanon was the type of lofty-sounding promise that is all too often made but quickly forgotten.

So it was especially welcome to see company chairman Craig Barrett (pictured) this week in Lebanon, putting substance to some of the rhetoric, with the announcement of a series of projects that range from providing immediate relief to developing more of an entrepreneurial culture in the country.

Intel, of course, has a strong track record in delivering on such promises in the region, having committed itself to a number of initiatives here.

In a previous interview with IT Weekly, Barrett talked about how the developed world needs to help "the next one billion" potential internet users to get connected if emerging nations are to improve in the areas of education, healthcare, economic development and electronic governance.

"It is pretty clear that those next one billion users will not be city dwellers, they will be people in the countryside and people in relatively underdeveloped areas of the world," he told IT Weekly last year.

While Intel is talking about the next one billion, Microsoft is going even further - the software giant this week is announcing plans to target the next five billion: those members of the global population who have not yet got connected to technology.

For both Intel and Microsoft - and for a lot of other technology firms - such ventures make for good business as well as making the world a better place. The more people using technology, the more technology you can sell.

But you can hardly accuse either company of making a quick buck: these schemes are going to take a long time to come to fruition. Meanwhile, let us hope that people in Lebanon benefit right now from technology support.

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