Information Age dawns in 2,500 Ennis homes

The Clare Champion, Friday, September 11th, 1998

The distribution of personal computers to Ennis homes is just over the half way stage with 2,500 families now enjoying the tangible benefits of Telecom Eireann’s £15m. Information Age Project. That’s according to Michael Byrne, Chief Executive of Ennis Information Age Town who this week has written to every householder who has received a new computer.

“Applications received to date amount to 4,383 and they are still coming in. Our distribution and delivery system which began at the end of June is working well and we are on target to complete the distribution of P.C.’s by October”, Mr. Byrne said. The Chief Executive said he was writing to householders to wish them well with their new computer but also to encourage people to use the new technology and to remind them of a few important practical points to get the best from this opportunity. “The teething problems should now be diminishing, but if you still have any difficulties contact our freephone number 1800 211 611, and our Ennis staff will be happy to point you in the right direction”, Mr. Byrne wrote.

On using the Internet, he said that the cost of access calls had been reduced substantially since the Ennis project began. “Nevertheless, there is a cost involved, and we want you to know and understand that. Telecom Eireann now show the cost of Internet access separately on your phone bill. To access the Internet during peak hours, 8:00a.m. - 6:00p.m. the cost is £1.32 per hour and off peak, evenings and weekends, is less than 50p per hour”, said Mr. Byrne.

He also noted that many parents were concerned not just with the cost of using the Internet but also with the content that young people may access. Telecom Eireann has installed a piece of software on each computer - Cyber Patrol - that allows people to control access to certain sites and also the amount of time someone can stay connected.

On Internet registration, Mr. Byrne said part of the package includes free connection to the Internet and three email addresses for each household together with one year free rental. If anybody is having difficulty with registration they should use the TINET helpline number 1890 20 40 40.

He also emphasised the importance of registering the software that is already installed on each computer. The form in the Microsoft Student Applications box should be completed. If neither a student nor teacher is resident in a particular house, the computer recipient should call 1800 211 611 and the Ennis office will advise on how to proceed.

A new Ennis web site will be launched at the end of the month, www.ennis.ie, to coincide with the anniversary of the announcement of Ennis as Ireland’s Information Age Town. “The web site will provide us with a way to improve communications in the town and over the next year we expect to see many businesses and public bodies provide a range of on-line services”, Mr. Byrne said. He also said he will be writing to the remaining households as the distribution of home computers proceeds.

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