New scheme to help more surf the digital wave

New scheme to help more surf the digital wave

Some low-income households will soon get not only a tablet but also high-speed broadband connection at $6 a month.

Thanks to a new assistance scheme that channels telco fines to the poor, some 8,000 households will receive help to get online.

The programme, which is called Home Access, draws from a new $10 million Digital Inclusion Fund made up of telco fines, first announced in April.

It will help the 8,000 households here with no school-going children and a gross monthly income not exceeding $1,900 to join the information highway over the next four years.

There is no scheme that addresses the technology needs of this group at present.

"This way, our users can make digital videos or calls with their loved ones, surf the Web, and enjoy the many other benefits of IT advancements," said Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim at the Silver Infocomm Day event held at ITE College East.

"As the use of ICT (infocomm technology) becomes ever more pervasive, there is a need to raise the level of adoption of infocomm especially among low-income households," he added yesterday.

About 5,000 of these households are already receiving financial assistance from the state. They will automatically qualify for the subsidised home broadband plans and tablets.

They will receive an invitation letter to apply from November.

The remaining 3,000 households can apply directly through self-help groups such as the Chinese Development Assistance Council, Singapore Indian Development Association and Yayasan Mendaki from April.

An existing initiative that makes broadband connectivity and computers more affordable to needy students will also receive a boost.

From November, those who qualify to get computers at a discount of up to 75 per cent will also get free 100Mbps broadband links for three years.

This is a major speed boost under the Infocomm Development Authority's NEU PC Plus programme.

Currently, needy students pay $1.50 monthly over 36 months for a fixed or mobile broadband plan at a speed of only 1Mbps.

More low-income households will also benefit. From November, households with a gross monthly income not exceeding $3,000 will qualify, up from $2,700. The raised income ceiling is expected to benefit some 6,000 families.

Cleaner Sim Ai Song, 55, said he hopes to apply for the benefits, which will be useful for his son and daughter, who are eight and 10 years old respectively.

"My kids need Internet access to do their homework, but I've been telling them to work in school," he said.

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