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The Australian government will provide $10.4 million over four years for the ongoing maintenance of the 2,000 broadband kiosks set up around the country to help senior citizens use the Internet.

According to itwire.com, the technology provider for the initial program was NEC, but the company was non-committal on its future role.

David Cooke, NEC's head of health and aged care solutions, told ExchangeDaily: "NEC is involved in ongoing discussions with the Department [of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs] to detail the scope of the continuation."

He also said that the "funding will allow the many thousands of seniors attending the 2,000 Broadband for Seniors kiosks deployed by NEC on behalf of the Department cross Australia to continue receive free Internet access and training."

The government committed $15 million between 2008 and 2011 to the program and a consortium comprising NEC Australia, Adult Learning Australia, The Australian Seniors Computers Clubs Association and University of the Third Age Online, was awarded a $15 million contract in November 2008 to install and operate 200 kiosks around Australia.

Rollout started in September 2009, at which time Cooke said, that NEC was providing contract management, project management, staff, technology and, through its 100-percent owned service provider Nextep, the national network for the project.

He said Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association and the University of the Third Age Australia (U3A) were providing face-to-face training materials and online training respectively, with rollout coordination by Adult Learning Australia. Rollout commenced in September 2009, and the project was completed in February this year.

More than 90,000 older Australians have used the 2,000 Broadband for Seniors kiosks, and more than a third had never used a computer before, and almost half had never used the internet.

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