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IMDA makes it easier to stay at home for Covid-19 with digital initiatives

By Liu Hongzuo - on 8 Apr 2020, 5:16pm

IMDA makes it easier to stay at home for Covid-19 with digital initiatives

Since 7 April 2020, Singapore enacted a series of Circuit Breaker measures to retard the infection rate of Covid-19 at a national level. The measures mainly revolved around a few tenets: only head out to do the most essential of things, and only mingle within your household. Stuff like mahjong with your neighbours, or visiting your significant other from a different household, etc., are all off the table until 4 May 2020.

In light of this new normal, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore announced a series of initiatives to support the nation in this period. See below a long quote from their spokesperson, S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information:

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!

Below are the initiatives in more detail.

To enhance Singapore's connectivity during this period, IMDA will continue to support local telcos in making immediate investments for the upgrading of networks and network capacity, as they have done in previous instances. This helps to ensure that households can partake in the smooth functioning of their digital services for both remote work and play. These upgrades are to support the shift of network usage from commercial to office spaces to residential areas. Network capacity for high traffic sites will be progressively boosted.

All Singapore residents, seniors, students, and foreign workers will get access to more content across a range of languages. IMDA was working with Mediacorp and paid TV operators like Singtel, StarHub, as well as other content providers, to provide more educational and entertainment content across free-to-air and OTT (over-the-top) platforms. More specifically:

  • Mediacorp will extend time belts for Suria and Vasantham channels with immediate effect, starting at 9.00 AM daily
  • Singtel will increase to 30 free preview channels effective 9 April 2020. Non-subscribers can download the Singtel CAST streaming app to access the content.
  • StarHub will increase their number of free preview channels to 32, limited to their existing customers. Premium content that consumers can expect also include 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.

See our Covid-19 telco support article for more of such news as well.

IMDA is also helping low-income students access home-based learning (HBL). Via the NEU PC Plus programme which supports low-income students with a subsidised PC and free fibre broadband, IMDA will ensure:

  • Faster provisioning of the programme itself by working with industry and community self-help groups to streamline the application and provisioning process
  • More support for students who are assisted under the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme. Students will be fully supported via the iNSPIRE Fund with no PC co-payment required. Existing requirements for community service will be waived during this period.
  • More choices, by including mobile broadband alternatives and the option of a subsidised second PC for families with three or more school-going children.

More details on qualifying household with school-going children can be found here.

Further to the NEU PC Plus programme, IMDA is also working with the industry on cash donation or IT products in-kind to support the digital needs of low-income households. Organisations that have stepped forward include CrimsonLogic, HP Inc, NetLink NBN Trust, SGTech, Standard Chartered Bank, and Tata Consultancy Services. Companies that would like to help further can email here or call 1800 210 2600 to discuss.

Source: IMDA