SINGAPORE – 08 Apr, 2020: The Government’s heightened safe distancing measures will significantly impact Singaporeans’ daily lives. The Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) has been closely monitoring the situation, and today announced a series of proactive Connectivity, Content and Accessibility initiatives to support the nation through this period.
The initiatives will ensure that everyone, especially vulnerable segments including seniors and school-going children from low-income households, can go online for daily tasks and social activities. IMDA will help to ensure that all who need to, can stay connected from the safety of their homes, whether for telecommuting, home-based learning, accessing information and entertainment, or staying in touch with family and friends.
Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said, “Singapore is now in a circuit-breaker period to curb the spread of COVID-19, and we want to help all Singaporeans and residents to remain connected, productive and entertained. Working with the telecommunications industry, we have taken additional steps to strengthen our network capacity and ensure connectivity for everyone. We are partnering the media industry to offer more content choices across free-to-air, cable and over-the-top platforms. We will also give more help to students from low-income families who may need PCs/laptops and broadband services for their home-based learning. These initiatives to enhance digital connectivity, content and access are part of our national effort to work with all Singaporeans and residents to stay home and comply with the circuit-breaker measures. Together, we can overcome!”
Enhanced Connectivity: Ensuring a strong and robust Internet experience
Singapore’s telecommunication infrastructure remains robust and stable with a healthy network buffer, even as Internet usage has increased since the start of the COVID-19 situation. This stability is due to prior sustained investments by IMDA and telecommunication operators (“telcos”) over the years. Nevertheless, IMDA will support the telcos in making immediate investments to upgrade their networks and further bolster Singapore’s nationwide network capacity. This will ensure that individuals, households and businesses continue to enjoy the smooth functioning of essential services and online activities from home.
The upgrades are expected to support consistent network experiences at residential areas, in response to the shift in network usage from commercial and office spaces to residential areas. Capacity at potential high traffic sites will also be progressively boosted.
Enhancing Content: Providing more choice for everyone
All Singapore residents, including seniors, students, and foreign workers, will get access to more content options across a range of languages. IMDA is working with Mediacorp, pay TV operators Singtel and StarHub, and other content providers, to make available more news, educational and entertainment content, across free-to-air and over-the-top (“OTT”) platforms. This will complement the wide range of content already available.
i) Mediacorp will extend the time belts for both Suria and Vasantham channels with immediate effect. During this period, both channels will start transmission from 9.00am daily. Viewers will be able to catch dramas, movies, kids’ programmes, info-ed variety programmes and current affairs programmes; and
ii) Singtel and StarHub will further expand the range of free preview channels available for subscribers and non-subscribers.
a. Singtel will increase their total number of free preview channels to 30, effective Thursday, 09 April. Non-subscribers can also download their CAST streaming service to access 30 free preview channels.
b. StarHub will increase their total number of free preview channels to 32, effective today, for its customers.
c. Both operators will offer a wide range of content spanning all four national languages, ranging from premium content such as BBC Earth and Discovery; children’s content like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon; news channels such as CTI Asia and Times Now; and Asian content like cHK, Colours, Hub Sensasi, JiaLe, MNC Drama, Oh!K, SunTV, TVB Jade and Zee Thirai.
Ensuring Accessibility: Working with partners to make digitalisation more accessible
IMDA will enhance help to those who need it, such as low-income students who require digital access for home-based learning. Enhancements have been made to the NEU PC Plus (“NPP”) programme which supports low-income students with a subsidised PC and free fibre broadband. IMDA will ensure:
i) Faster provisioning of the NPP programme by working with the industry and community self-help groups to streamline the application and provisioning process;
ii) More support for students assisted under the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme. Students will be fully supported through the iNSPIRE Fund, with no PC co-payment required. Existing requirements for community service will be waived for this period; and
iii) More choices by including mobile broadband options, and the option of a subsidised second PC for families with three or more school-going children;
Students who require support can also approach their schools for assistance. More details can be found in Annex A.
As part of SG United efforts, IMDA is also working with the industry to donate cash or IT products in-kind1 to support the digital needs of low-income households. Organisations including CrimsonLogic, HP Inc, NetLink NBN Trust, SGTech, Standard Chartered Bank, and Tata Consultancy Services have already stepped forward to help. Companies interested to contribute can contact Community Chest at firstname.lastname@example.org or at hotline number 1800 210 2600. IMDA welcomes more companies to come on board.
IMDA will continue to monitor the developments on telecommunications and digital use in Singapore and take further actions if needed. In the meantime, citizens who need help - such as where to go to buy handsets or laptops during this time, or how to buy and learn online, can visit IMDA’s Stay Healthy, Go Digital page for step-by-step guides and a suite of online resources. Businesses can also refer to the Biz Go Digital page for help on digital solutions, grants and training.
1Such as laptops and refurbished computers
ISSUED BY THE INFO-COMMUNICATIONS MEDIA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
About Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) leads Singapore’s digital transformation with infocomm media. To do this, IMDA will develop a dynamic digital economy and a cohesive digital society, driven by an exceptional infocomm media (ICM) ecosystem – by developing talent, strengthening business capabilities, and enhancing Singapore's ICM infrastructure. IMDA also regulates the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment, and enhances Singapore’s data protection regime through the Personal Data Protection Commission.
For more news and information, visit www.imda.gov.sg or follow IMDA on Facebook IMDAsg and Twitter @IMDAsg.
For media clarifications, please contact:
NEUBRONNER Eugene (Mr)
Manager, Communications and Marketing, IMDA
DID: (65) 6211 1182
CHUA Hian Hou (Mr)
Deputy Director, Communications and Marketing, IMDA
DID: (65) 6202 4956