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Christmas has come early for around 122,000 small businesses in the UK after the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) announced that each of its members is to receive free Internet access in their stockings this year. This generous gift is designed to drag Britain's small businesses into the wired age and help them trade on the Internet. A special CD-ROM packed with additional software is being mailed to each of the FSB's 122,000 members this week in time for Christmas. Playing Santa along with the FSB are Microsoft, 3Com, Lloyds TSB and Cobweb who have all banded together to deliver some festive cheer for the UK's poor beleaguered small businesses. It's a shame Cisco wasn't among them since it recently slammed small businesses for their lack of interest in the hi-tech world (see Cisco slams small business for resisting Internet revolution). "With the ever-expanding global marketplace it is important that small business do not get left behind in the information technology stakes," said John Harris, chairman of the FSB's IT committee. "The FSB is, therefore, offering a helping hand to get them started on the road to electronic trading," he said. A spokesman for the FSB said that up to 40 per cent of small businesses could take up the offer. The initiative was launched by Barbara Roche, the Minister for Small Firms, at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London. ®

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