Parliament Sitting on 2 February 2021
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
33. Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) how many households are currently eligible for subsidised digital inclusion schemes like the Home Access and NEU PC Plus Programmes, and what percentage of these households are not enrolled; (b) what is being done to create more awareness about the schemes to eligible households; (c) whether there are plans to place rental households under auto-inclusion for the Home Access Programme; and (d) what are the plans for the next 10 years to ensure that the broadband technology availed to subsidised recipients stay current with the times.
1. The Government is committed to equipping all Singaporeans with a baseline of affordable digital access. The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s Home Access and NEU PC Plus programmes subsidise digital connectivity for low-income households. We have also established a streamlined application process for households supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)’s Comcare Long-Term and Short-to-Medium Term Assistance Schemes, and the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s Financial Assistance Scheme, to facilitate the inclusion of such households.
2. IMDA has been creating awareness about the programmes through the natural touchpoints of likely beneficiaries, such as MOE schools and Social Service Offices. To date, the NEU PC Plus programme has supported a total of about 56,000 households since 2006, and the Home Access programme has benefited some 21,000 households since late 2014. In the coming months, we will be streamlining the application for Public Rental Scheme households to ensure that they can auto-qualify for the assistance, so that there is a more seamless process in meeting their digital connectivity needs.
3. These efforts have contributed to the increase in Singapore’s household level broadband penetration rate from 87% in 2014 to 98% in 2019. We will continue to work closely with agencies such as MSF and MOE to support low-income households in digital access to ensure that no one is left behind in Singapore’s digitalisation journey.
4. The Government also regularly reviews our programmes for currency and relevance. The Home Access programme was enhanced in April 2020 to offer faster broadband speeds from 300 Mbps to 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps. These speeds are on par with what is available to Singapore consumers more generally.
5. Beyond ensuring digital access, my Ministry and our agencies will also work with stakeholders and partners to help all Singaporeans go digital. To make this a success, we aim to empower others to lead efforts in helping Singaporeans embrace technology as a means to improving lives. This will require different segments of society to contribute, and we encourage those with an interest, passion and the skills to join us on this journey.