GetOnline@Home: Government scheme helps you buy a computer for £49
The Government has launched the GetOnline@Home scheme, offering decent computers for an upfront cost of less than £50.
Fancy a new computer, without spending a fortune? A new Government scheme may help you do just that.
GetOnline@Home offers affordable computers and internet access to people who previously would have struggled to afford them
The initiative is part of Martha Lane Fox’s Go ON UK initiative, which aims to help the elderly, small businesses and charities to get online and use the web more productively.
Lastminute.com founder Fox has teamed up with Microsoft, TalkTalk and Simplify Digital with the idea of targeting those who can’t afford computers to get online.
So, how do the prices stack up?
Under the scheme people on certain benefits such as housing benefit, income support, jobseeker's allowance and disability living allowance can buy a refurbished desktop from just £99. The PC comes with a mouse and keyboard, 15” screen, P4 2GHz processor, 1Gb RAM, and 40Gb hard drive.
Laptops start at £169 and include a Celeron processor, 1Gb RAM, 40Gb hard drive.
If you’re not on benefits you can get a desktop from £149 and a laptop from £199.
The computers are both pretty cheap compared to what you can get elsewhere. Both refurbished desktops and laptops start from about £299 at Dixons.
A special offer provided by comparison site Simplify Digital means people signing up for a broadband package through the site can get a further £50 off, bringing the price of a refurbished desktop for someone on benefits down to £49 or £119 for a laptop.
However, the only broadband provider currently involved in the scheme is Talk Talk.
People buying a computer through GetOnline@Home can get TalkTalk’s Essentials package for just £5 a month (it’s normally £6.50). However, they have to sign up for a year.
Essentials offers up to 14Mb broadband, 40Gb download allowance, inclusive weekend and evening calls.
However, they will also need to pay £14.50 a month line rental, bringing the total monthly cost to £19.50. Customers will need to be credit checked before TalkTalk will sign them up and the service must be available in their area. There’s also a £30 or £50 connection fee although this is credited back on the first or second bill.
GetOnline@Home has also teamed up with Three to offer mobile internet via a dongle for people who want to use their laptop out and about.
£19 gets you 1GB of data for 1 month and after that it’s pay-as-you-go so you can top it up when you run out of allowance. You'll need to check mobile coverage in your area.
A better deal?
The computers offered by GetOnline@Home are certainly a good deal, albeit for a second-hand refurbished computer.
However, there are a handful of better broadband deals from a choice of suppliers.
If you went direct to TalkTalk Essentials is currently on a special offer at half-price for 12 months. So if you bought a computer and broadband deal separately you could get the broadband for just £3.25 a month. Line rental is then added on top, and is either £14.50 on a monthly basis or £114 if you pay for a year up front (£9.50 a month).
TalkTalk might be cheap but it has a legendry poor reputation for customer service so householders might be better off shopping around for a broadband firm that can deliver on both price and service.
Tesco Broadband offers 14Mb broadband for £2.50 a month for 12 months (then £6.50 a month after that). The deal comes with unlimited downloads and free UK evening and weekend calls. Line rental is £13.75 on top.
Another option is Primus Broadband and Phone Saver which costs £2.99 a month on an 18-month contract and includes 14Mb broadband, 20Gb download limit. Line rental is a further £12.79 a month. To compare broadband deals in your area head over to Broadband Choices.
So what do you think of the scheme? Is the Government right to try to help more people access the internet in an affordable manner? Would you take advantage of the deals if you qualified? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.