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Wired: In Mexico, Net Not a Priority; Free Software May Hold the Key

Jan 16, 2001, 18:36 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Julia Scheeres)

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"...Mexican nonprofits such as the Union of Businesspeople for Technology in Education have managed to pry donations from the hands of billionaire multinationals -- such as Microsoft -- with some success. But on a larger scale, Mexico's future may well reside in free software as well as hardware donations, said Gary Chapman, director of the 21st Century Project, a nonprofit research and education program on science and technology policy based at the University of Texas at Austin."

"The standard MS Office price tag is $250. It would take the average Mexican -- earning $5 a day -- almost 2 months to buy it. Chapman calculates it would cost about $300 million to outfit Mexico's notoriously under-funded schools with Microsoft applications -- the same amount Microsoft claims to lose to piracy in Mexico each year."

"Open source software would solve that (piracy) problem," Chapman said. "You can get all the functionality without paying the software fees." In fact, Red Escolar, a project that aspires to wire every Mexican school to the Internet, uses free applications Linux and Gnome on its computers, he said. "Mexico could become an example for other countries around the world," Chapman said."

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