KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia It was an act that only Intel chairman Craig Barrett could have pulled off with panache.
While announcing that Intel would invest $15 million in Malaysia's mobile broadband networking provider, Green Packet Berhad, Barrett mingled with school children on the stage, kneeling down and talking to them at their level--literally. To what was probably a prepared question on the key to success, Barrett laughed and replied, "Study hard."
Speaking at the 16th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) here this week, Barrett also said global alliances will be the key to getting the next 1 billion people on the Internet. He said better education is the best way to achieve this goal.
"Throwing technology at educational institutions is not enough. You need to have teachers to be able to use the tools, especially in the developing nations where 85 percent of the population lies in the 15- to 24-year-old category. And the challenge here is not merely to get them access to the PC and the Internet, but to make the cost of access cheaper," Barrett said.
Meanwhile, Intel and Packet One Networks, Malaysia, will work together to deploy Malaysia's first nation-wide 802.16e Wi-Max network. It will be commercially available in June.
Another initiative announced by Barrett is joint venture between Intel Capital and Grameen Trust aimed at social and economic development. The initiative to be launched soon in Bangladesh is based on the "social business" model created by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who founded Grameen Bank in 1976 to promote microfinancing and community development.
Barrett, who also chairs the U.N. Global Alliance for ICT and Development, stressed the need for public-private collaboration on technology as the key to improving living standards. Intel has also joined with NetHope, a consortium of 22 private agencies to develop IT solutions in areas such as healthcare, education and economic development.
An Intel-powered "Aid Station PC," an extremely rugged, low-cost platform developed for use in extreme climates and remote locations, was demonstrated here by NetHope CEO Bill Brindley and Mary Gadams, founder and CEO of Racing The Planet, which organizes running events. Gadams took the PC to remote locations to test its functionality.