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Claro first to market with netbooks on Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:01 am



Written by Jamaica-Gleaner.com

digicel as the first big telecom to roll out an Internet package using netbooks as hooks for business, though the Irish company has been positioning for a launch for about four years.

Claro now has on offer Dell mini 10 netbooks in a package the company's promotions say is worth $49,999.

But customers will be asked to pay only $6,000 at sign-up for the so-called '3,000 megabyte plan', and will qualify for a free netbook once proof of income and address and proper identification are provided. Subscribers also must commit to a three-year contract to pay a monthly fee of $3,000, which would entitle them to 3,000 megabytes every 30 days.

Should the user exceed the allocation, he/she will be billed $3 for each megabyte downloaded.

The package is six months or more ahead of Digicel's planned second-quarter roll-out, as the company sets up its new 4G network that it promises will be faster and more efficient than the 3G services being sold by Claro and LIME Jamaica.

Netbooks are the smaller versions of the regular laptops, and are considered a more transportable alternative. It is projected that some 140 million will be sold over the next five years, as the device grows in popularity.

Digicel's plan was to begin the sale of the device between April and June 2010, the same time as the roll-out of its WiMAX service, which is expected to cover 60 per cent of the population in all 14 parishes at commissioning.

The netbooks, Digicel CEO Mark Linehan said in September, were being sourced from a number of computer manufacturers, including Acer, whose 10.1" Aspire One P531h netbook is currently being sold on the US market for US$415.

Back in February, Dell Inc launched the mini netbook at US$399, and is now offering promotional financing at US$15 monthly for qualified applicants, or a one-off starting price of US$349 - the equivalent of J$31,000 - depending on where one shops.

Claro's 3,000 prepaid plan comes with one month free Internet access.

Digicel declined comment for this story.

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