- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Comcast Cable Corp. is helping about 500 Baltimore employees get connected.
The cable provider, which already offers its employees free digital cable and free high-speed Internet access, now is giving away free personal computers from Dell Computer Corp.
The Philadelphia-based cable provider is testing the employee perk only in its Baltimore; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Indianapolis markets and will evaluate the program in a couple of months before rolling it out nationwide.
About 840 Comcast employees, who have non-managerial positions and have been with Comcast for at least a year, have taken advantage of the $1,200 vouchers for the personal computers and access to Comcast@Home, the company's Internet-service provider.
"It's a way for the employees to stay connected," said Mitchell Schmale, a Comcast spokesman. "It's an added perk."
But more importantly, he said, it's a way for Comcast to retain quality employees.
"Comcast is trying to be competitive and offer employees these types of opportunities they can't get anywhere else," Mr. Schmale said.
In addition to retaining workers, employers are likely to get more productivity from employees by offering them free at-home computers, said Rima Assaker, editor in chief of ITrecruitermag.com in McLean, Va.
For instance, employees who don't have computers at home may spend company time for personal computer use like e-mailing friends. But e-mailing from home would help free up their time on the job, allowing them to do their work instead, she said.
Comcast also will offer on-line training and educational programs to help employees enhance their computer literacy and technical skills.
In offering computers to its employees, Comcast is following in the steps of other corporations, including Ford Motor Co. and Delta Air Lines.
Earlier this year, Ford announced it was offering its 350,000 employees Hewlett-Packard personal computers along with Internet access for $5 a month.
For $12 a month for 3 years, 72,000 Delta Air Lines employees can get a $1,600 computer, Microsoft Windows, two e-mail accounts and enough space for each household to create its own Web site.

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