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Neuf Cegetel targets mass market

Neuf Cegetel, the French operator which last week agreed to acquire AOL France’s internet access business for Eur288m (£192.6m), has unveiled a new strategy targeted at bringing broadband to the mass market.

In France, close to 50 per cent of homes do not yet have a PC and almost 60 per cent do not have internet access. According to Cegetel, the two main barriers to internet adoption are the complexity of computer systems and the cost of buying a PC.

To target the unconnected demographic, Cegetel has unveiled Easy Gate, which is effectively a PC, router and broadband modem all in the one box.

Based on Linux, the device comes preloaded with a suite of applications providing typical internet functionality such as email, instant messaging, web browsing and videoconferencing as well as a word processor, spreadsheet, photo editor, PDF reader and multimedia player.

The device is bundled with an up to 8Mb DSL line and VoIP software offering unlimited calls to fixed-line numbers in France.

The service is available for Eur39.90 per month with a one off charge of Eur99 for the device.

Neuf Cegetel’s acquisition of AOL’s French internet access business will give the company a further 500,000 broadband customers, taking Cegetel’s subscriber base to 2 million.

Cegetel also said that by the end of the year it would also roll out DSL TV as well as a converged mobile and wifi telephony offering.

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