New Vietnam lab aims at bridging digital divide

Taiwan’s Via Technologies Inc. became the latest company to announce a PC center aimed at bridging the digital divide in developing countries with the opening of a lab in Vietnam on Thursday.

The move highlights a trend among IT companies to work with global education and relief agencies to help ensure poor nations aren’t left behind technologically. Microsoft Corp., for example, has donated worker time and money to establish technology centers in nations around the world, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

The philanthropy projects also promote goodwill for companies in those nations, and can act as a marketing boost in target areas such as India and China.

Via provided a 10-piece client/server configuration and 10 power-saving PCs to the lab, dubbed the VIA pc-1 ICT (information and communications technology) Center at Vietnam’s Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry. Cornell University, which is based in Cornell, New York, also worked on the ICT center project.

“The VIA pc-1 Initiative is aimed at enabling the next one billion people to get connected. With a focus on communication, education and information, the VIA pc-1 Initiative seeks to empower millions of people to improve their quality of life through technology, especially in emerging markets,” the company said.

The lab will focus on training students and faculty at the university in ICT skills, and is part of a broader initiative in which Via intends to extend to other areas. The computer systems used in the center run on microprocessors designed by Via, and the company said it hopes the ICT lab will serve as a showcase for its energy efficient computing devices and their use in education.

More information on the VIA pc-1 Initiative can be found at, while the company also opened a Web site aimed at digital divide issues at