MCI response to PQ on Assisting Lower income Groups to Remain Connected
Parliament Sitting on 1 November 2021
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
43. Mr Don Wee: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information how is the Ministry assisting members of the lower income groups with (i) owning digital devices and their replacements which are sufficiently updated so that they operate well and can guard against malware and (ii) remaining connected through reliable and affordable telecommunications plans.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) Home Access, NEU PC Plus and Mobile Access for Seniors schemes support lower income groups with subsidised Internet connectivity and digital devices. The out of pocket expenses to beneficiaries of the IMDA’s schemes are kept affordable. For example, subsidised fibre broadband under Home Access starts from $6 a month for 2-year plans and mobile data plans under Mobile Access for Seniors are available at $5 per month for 2-year plans.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) also provides comprehensive support to ComCare beneficiaries, which includes telecommunications items such as mobile data plans. To facilitate seamless access, eligible ComCare beneficiaries without existing broadband plans will qualify for IMDA’s Home Access scheme.
Personal computers provided under IMDA’s schemes have pre-installed anti-virus protection, while smartphones come with Mobile Security service. Devices provided under IMDA schemes are also covered under warranty for manufacturer defects.
The fibre broadband, mobile data plans and digital devices provided under the Government schemes are sufficient to support daily activities for productivity and leisure. We regularly review the schemes, to consider what is available on the market while ensuring that our offerings keep pace with the digital needs of citizens.
In addition, it is also the responsibility of all users to adopt good cyber hygiene measures. This includes downloading software updates promptly to ensure their systems function optimally and are protected against malware. Users would also need to take steps to prevent the risk of malware, such as avoiding dubious websites and opening suspicious attachments.
To educate users on cybersecurity, the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) conducts awareness campaigns and programmes, including webinars, for different groups such as the young and elderly. Resources that offer practical tips are available on CSA’s website. Seniors can also go to SG Digital community hubs to learn cybersecurity tips. These public education efforts complement the Government’s schemes to ensure that users are empowered with digital skills and have the means to access the benefits of digital safely.