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Over Half of Singapore Households Embracing an E-Lifestyle


More Singaporeans today own computers and subscribe to home Internet access as compared to five years ago. This was revealed by the Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households 2000 conducted by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA)... 

Making Singapore a Place Where the 21st Century Feels like Home

More Singaporeans today own computers and subscribe to home Internet access as compared to five years ago. This was revealed by the Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households 2000 (176.06KB) conducted by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

The 2000 survey shows that six out of 10 homes own at least one computer compared to about four out of 10 households in 1996. In terms of home Internet access, five out of 10 homes had Internet access in 2000, compared to about one out of 10 homes in 1996.

The enthusiastic embracing of technologies among Singaporeans regardless of ethnic group or income level suggests that digital inclusion is growing. Home computers and Internet access are no longer seen as luxury items but common resources used by many individuals.

Key Findings

Computer Ownership

Home computer ownership has grown rapidly since 1996, with six out of 10 homes in Singapore having at least one computer in 2000, compared to about four out of 10 homes in 1996. The rapid increase in ownership is largely attributed to national programmes which promote Infocomm usage among the general public and the workforce, as well as the emphasis on Infocomm usage in school curriculum.

Comparison with other countries shows that Singapore remains relatively ahead in terms of home computer ownership, surpassing Australia (56%)1, United States (51%)2, Hong Kong (50%)3 and Ireland (32%)4.

Ownership of home computers among public housing has increased to 58% in 2000, compared to 31% in 1996. This positive sign is reflective of the increasing awareness and adoption of Infocomm technology among heart-landers in Singapore although computer ownership continues to be higher among private housing (78%).

Among the ethnic groups, Malays lead with the highest increase in home computer ownership (11%), followed by Indians (8%). The host of IDA programmes managed in partnership with ethnic community groups such as the Tamil and Malay Internet Steering Committees, as well as the PC Reuse Scheme will continue to drive Infocomm adoption among the various ethnic communities.

Internet Access

Home Internet access has also grown rapidly in the last five years with half of Singapore homes subscribing to Internet access in 2000, compared to about one out of 10 homes in 1996. The high percentage of home Internet access can be attributed to affordable subscription fees provided by the Internet Service Providers, increasing popularity of Internet usage among the general public, as well as promotion of Internet usage through public education programmes.

As with home computer ownership, Singapore has a higher home Internet access rate than United States (42%)2 Australia (37%)1, Hong Kong (36%)3 and Ireland (20%)4. The high Internet access shows that Internet has become a vital resource in the home for instant connectivity to a myriad of information and education possibilities available online.

Home Internet access has grown rapidly among all ethnic groups, especially for Malay homes which saw an increase of 18% and Indian homes with an increase of 7%. This may be a result of the Infocomm promotion and assistance programmes driven by IDA and the various ethnic community groups.

Infocomm Usage Pattern

In terms of users' profile, there are more multiple computer users in the homes now than in 1990 where there was only one user in more than half of the homes owning computers. The typical home computer user is male (53%), below 30 years old (61%) and has polytechnic/tertiary education (40%).

The Internet is becoming an increasingly vital tool in our knowledge-based economy given that there are about 1.3 million Internet users in Singapore and 42% of the population aged 15 years and above are Internet users.

Email/Chat remains the 'killer applications' for Internet users in 2000, with 92% of respondents using it. The other most frequently used applications are Information retrieval (75%), Web applications (40%), and News/webcast (40%).

Barriers and Motivation

An increasing number of households are recognising the need to have a computer and Internet access at home. This reflects the growing awareness of the value of Infocomm usage among Singaporeans. IDA will continue to drive public education programmes such as e-Celebrations Singapore to raise awareness and adoption of an e-lifestyle.

An increasing proportion of homes cited the lack of knowledge/skills to use Infocomm technology as a reason for not owning a computer or subscribing to the Internet. To address this, IDA has introduced training initiatives such as the National IT Literacy Programme (NITLP) and the Infocomm Competency Programme to provide customised training to meet specific needs of the trainees. Senior citizens are also encouraged to participate in NITLP classes to enable lifelong learning and enjoy the benefits of an e-lifestyle.

For households who are concerned with the cost of Infocomm usage, IDA provides assistance through the PC Reuse Scheme - a partnership programme with community groups and the private sector to provide needy families with access to Infocomm technology.

Some Internet users have also chosen to take advantage of the widespread availability of some 7,000 public access points in community libraries, cyber cafes and schools, instead of subscribing to home Internet access.


Dr Kaizad Heerjee, Assistant Chief Executive, Online Development at IDA, said, "We are pleased to see an acceleration in the awareness and adoption of Infocomm technologies among Singaporeans. The survey findings show that the foundation for an e-inclusive society is in place. With a tech-savvy population, Singapore also makes an ideal test-bed and launch-pad for new, innovative applications and services."

Dr Heerjee added, "For those who are yet to be digitally connected, we will continue to encourage them to use Infocomm technologies as an e-lifestyle will enrich their quality of life and enhance employment opportunities. For those who are already connected, the challenge is to raise the level of sophistication of their usage of Internet applications/services and help them maximise opportunities in this digital age."


The Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households 2000 aims to gauge the level of ownership of Infocomm appliances and subscription to Infocomm services in Singapore households. In addition, it assesses the scope and extent of Infocomm usage, and identifies barriers and motivations for Infocomm adoption and usage. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 1,500 households selected from the Household Sampling Frame maintained by the Department of Statistics for the survey. This is the fifth household Infocomm usage survey, with the first survey being conducted in 1990.

For a summary of the key survey findings, please visit the IDA website at More details are available under "Infocomm Facts & Figures" / "Survey Results".


Notes to Editors:

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, November 2000
2 US Department of Commerce, August 2000
3 Census & Statistics Department, March 2000
4 Central Statistics Office, November 2000

About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is a dynamic organisation with an integrated perspective to developing, promoting and regulating info-communications in Singapore. In the fast-changing and converging spheres of telecommunications, information and media technologies, IDA will be the catalyst for change and growth in Singapore's evolution into a vibrant global info-communications technology centre. For more information, please visit

For further information, please contact:

Gabriel Wong or Joanne Kwan
Edelman Public Relations Worldwide
Phone: (65) 733 1110 / Fax: (65) 733 5550