Turning Old Computers into Tools for Subscribers

This article is directed at my many Independent Telephone/Rural Local Exchange company friends.  It is the details behind a story I often talk about at conferences and training sessions.

One of the main challenges for the RLECs is to up the “take-rate” of broadband in their served area.  There are a number of barriers we discuss in our POTS to Pipes: Front Office seminar.  The proper use of broadband requires an Internet appliance in the subscribers home.  For many, the cost of a computer/appliance or the lack of knowledge on how to use one is the critical issue holding them back from access of the Internet.

I have started the following initiative with a number of my RLEC friends and success to date has been formidable.  Most telephone companies often store their old computers used in the front office.  By taking these computers out of the closet, as it were, and wiping them of any pertinent data, then loading them with a free operating system, they can be handed out to the customers in need as a “no strings attached” internet appliance, free of charge.  Along with a free month of broadband service, this is usually all that is needed to overcome the barrier.

Here is all you need:

Step 1:

Make sure the computer has all the necessary peripherals and ensure it boots up properly and that everything works.

Step 2:

Go to the following link: UBUNTU and download the .ISO image and burn a CD or two to use as the new operating system.  Important Note: You will need an ISO image burner – not a simple copy the ISO image to the CD.

Step 3:

Install the CD into the CD ROM drive and boot from this CD.  Install Ubuntu onto the hard disk as the new Operating System.  During this process you will wipe the old disk format and any contents on the hard disk.

Step 4:

Once installed, remove the CD (it can be used on the next system).  Boot up the the computer and create a simple user and password.  Log in, and connect the system to the Internet.  test that it is operational, that the major components are installed.  This is a good time to run an update, as well as install OpenOffice (a free Microsoft Office compatible package with Word processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation, and more) and any other preferred components.

Process complete!

The computer is now fully functional and ready to be handed out.

But There’s More

Check out the System> Administration> Networking area and how easy it is to instruct the user remotely to test their connections!

Lastly, I suggest spending a few instructional moments with the user hitting on the following how to’s:

  • Power Up/Down
  • Logging in
  • Accessing the Internet via Firefox
  • Accessing Email using Thunderbird
  • The Libre Office Suite
  • Games
  • Utilities

That should do it.  Good luck.  Happy Barrier Busting!!

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