AOL Europe, Intel to bundle Net access with PCs

AOL Europe, Intel to bundle Net access with PCs

Trying to lure more European users online, AOL Europe yesterday said it has struck an agreement with Intel to deliver cheap PCs bundled with online access across Europe.

AOL Europe, a 50-50 joint venture between America Online and Bertelsmann AG, will work with different PC manufacturers to offer users an integrated package that combines the purchase of PCs based on Intel's Pentium III processors with online access, according to a joint statement. Consumers will pay only one price for both the PC and the Net access service.

The offer, which is scheduled to be rolled out throughout Europe over the next few months, will differ from country to country. In the UK, for example, new members of CompuServe -- an Internet service provider owned by AOL -- will get a cash rebate on PCs from Fujitsu Siemens Computers BV.

Further details on other offers were not immediately available.

The high cost of hardware is often a barrier to consumers purchasing a PC, AOL Europe said in the statement. The AOL Europe/Intel initiative is also aimed at users driven to purchase a PC mainly to get Net access.

The deal still does not solve the problem of high per-minute online charges, however, which most users throughout Europe pay to their telephone carriers. Many analysts see this as the top barrier to higher Internet penetration in Europe.

AOL Europe, with its two ISP brands, AOL and CompuServe, has 2.8 million members. It has separate Web sites in each European country.

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