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IBM Brings Wi Fi to More Than 600 Boys & Girls Clubs

From Maine to California, Hotspots Give Thousands of Kids Their First-Ever Internet Experience

ARMONK, N.Y. - 18 Jun 2003: IBM today announced that it has built secure wireless computing environments -- known as Wi Fi -- for more than 600 Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States, providing Internet access for more than 200,000 children.

The contract represents one of IBM's largest deployments of Wi Fi systems to date, with wireless-enabled Clubs located in New York, Chicago, Oakland and other major cities as well as in small towns and rural areas.

"These technology centers are helping us level the playing field for our Boys & Girls Club members," said Bill Regehr, senior vice president, Information Technology, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "For some of them, it's the first time they've ever had the opportunity to use a computer or access the Web after school. IBM has been extremely helpful, integrating a solution that will help our children develop skills, learn and dream of using a set of skills they never thought possible."

According to Regehr, the choice of wireless configurations, rather than wireline, allows the organization to "bridge the digital divide," while reducing expenses for hardware, software and installation by more than 50%.

Wi Fi is part of a technological transformation at Boys & Girls Clubs that turns each Club -- most of which had a single Internet connection or none at all -- into a digital oasis where up to 10 children can simultaneously access the Web. The children can now learn to build their own Websites, communicate with friends and teachers, and surf the Web with safety and enjoyment. They're also taking advantage of the local networks' large capacity -- called bandwidth -- to create and share massive files, such as digital images.

IBM designed and built the wireless environments, which include Linksys wireless access points connected to high speed Internet connections.

The children access the Web by way of 6,400 new IBM desktop PCs equipped with wireless cards. The PCs feature IBM ThinkVantage Technologies such as Rapid Restore PC, which is a full system backup that is designed to restore data, settings and applications after a software system failure. If a PC acquires a virus, for example, it can typically be restored to its last-saved state in about 20 minutes by pressing one button -- kids or local staff members don't have to call a help line under most circumstances. At IBM Integration Centers, IBM loaded the software image and configured the applications and operating system of each of the PCs for Wi Fi and printer access.

"Boys & Girls Clubs of America knows that to level the playing field for their members they really have to deliver state-of-the-art technology. That means giving these 6- to 18-year-olds technology that's going to help them learn, increase their appetite for knowledge, and give them skills that one day will be essential in the job market," said Norm Korey, vice president, wireless e-business, IBM Global Services.

Starting with a handful of kids in 1860, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has the same mission today as back then -- keeping kids off the streets, out of gangs and into leadership and education programs. The organization includes Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt and Michael Jordan among its alumni.

The wireless solution IBM built for Boys & Girls Clubs is based on 802.11b technology, also called Wi Fi, an increasingly popular wireless communication standard that is used in many hotels, coffee-shops and other "hot spots" to connect computer users to their e-mail systems, databases and the Internet.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of America comprises a national network of more than 3,300 neighborhood-based facilities annually serving some 3.6 million young people, primarily from disadvantaged circumstances. Known as "The Positive Place for Kids," the Clubs provide guidance-oriented character development programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full-time professional staff. Key Boys & Girls Club programs, such as Youth of the Year, emphasize character and leadership development, education and career enhancement, health and life skills, the arts, and sports, fitness and recreation.

IBM Global Services
IBM Global Services is the world's largest information technology services and consulting provider, generating over $36 billion in 2002. Approximately 180,000 professionals serve customers in over 160 countries, providing the entire spectrum of customers' e-business needs -- from the business transformation and industry expertise of IBM Business Consulting Services to hosting, infrastructure, technology design and training services. IBM Global Services delivers integrated, flexible and resilient processes -- across companies and through business partners -- that enable customers to maximize the opportunities of an on-demand business environment.

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Contact(s) information

John Buscemi
IBM Media Relations
(914) 766-4495
jbuscemi@us.ibm.com

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