Existing public IT centres may be rural or urban, aimed at the community or businesses (or both), grant funded or trading, purpose-build centres – or facilities housed in an existing school, library, business or community centre. The common thread is the provision of computers and public internet access, with training, support and work space – and maybe other services. Different models range from fully grant-funded centres where most support and training is free, through to privately owned businesses, where you'd expect to pay the market rate.
There is no "magic" blueprint: because every community is different every centre will be different. Ideas and technologies are developing too fast to set things in stone. But there are useful processes to follow, plenty of past experience to tap, and lots of wheels that don't need re-inventing. The most interesting centres – and, arguably, the most sustainable – break the mold. These are the centres that mix community with business and business with leisure. They are charities that trade; or businesses run by 'social entrepreneurs'. They are projects which focus on local needs in a global market. They do things differently. They are run by people who not only say "why?" but also "why not?".
Cabinas pÃºblicas, or public computer centres, have proved enormously popular with Peruvians, 95 percent of whom do not have a phone line at home or cannot afford to own a computer. Founded in 1991, the non-profit Peruvian Scientific Network/Internet Peru (RCP) has by 1997 established such centres as in 27 locations throughout the country. The cabinas are operated as franchises and typically contain 20 PCs with dedicated lines to the Internet, which can be "rented" by users for as little as $1 for one hour. They also provide training, personal e-mail accounts, World Wide Web page development and other services. The fee structure covers costs and allows for expansion while remaining affordable for low-income people. RDP has become the dominant provider of Internet access in Peru and is planning to open a further 1,000 cabinas with the financial backing of the Inter-American Development Bank. A similar project is being considered for Argentina.