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CNN Today

Companies Offer Cheaper Web Access, Make Internet More Accessible

Aired August 24, 2000 - 2:40 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In this era of the Internet, more people than ever before are logging on, partly because companies are making it easier and cheaper to get online.

CNN's Laura Rowley reports on some of the things companies are doing to make the Worldwide Web more accessible to all classes of people.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA ROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who says it's just the rich and famous who have connections? Households earning $25,000 or less are the fastest growing group online, up 50 percent in the last year, according to research firm Media Metrix.

ANNE RICKERT, ANALYST, MEDIA METRIX: We've seen a decrease in the prices of computers. We've seen access improve in the workplace and at school. We've seen rebate programs in which people can actually have the price of their computer reimbursed in exchange for signing up with a particular ISP.

ROWLEY: Overall, this group still represents just 10 percent of the online community. But companies are trying to change that, offering an array of cheaper ways to access the Internet. They include Web appliances, easy-to-use devices that let users surf the Web and send e-mail.

HARRY MCCRACKEN, EDITOR "PC WORLD": Typically, the boxes cost $200, $300, which sounds very attractive. But in a lot of cases, you're also agreeing to a long-term service contract. Over the course of three years, it may be something close to $1,000, which you can buy a pretty good PC for these days.

ROWLEY: If you don't have cash on hand, companies such as PeoplePC offer a basic PC and Web access for $25 a month over three years.

MCCRACKEN: If you're looking at PeoplePC, you should also look at some of the financing plans from other computer manufacturers because, really, what PeoplePC is is a financing plan. They're loaning you the money to buy a PC.

ROWLEY: Buying a used computer can cost hundreds of dollars less than a new one, but experts suggest finding a dealer that offers warranties. Combine that with free Internet service from a company like NetZero. Just be aware these companies sell your personal information to advertisers, who target you with promotions.

That's "Your Money, Laura Rowley, CNN Financial News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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