Web-savvy foreign workers

Web-savvy foreign workers
People making use of the free Wi-Fi access outside myVillage mall in Serangoon Gardens. Scouting for free Wi-Fi zones is a popular pursuit among foreign workers who are becoming increasingly Web- and social media-savvy.

As she climbs into bed after a day of cleaning, sweeping and scrubbing, Filipino maid Cecilia Domingo Hilario looks forward to two uninterrupted hours of surfing.

She dives into Facebook to view her friends' photos, picks up where she left off on Candy Crush and calls her younger brother in the Philippines through free call app Viber.

"I look forward to going online every night," said the 40-year-old, who is single and has been working in Singapore for 20 years.

"It is my time to relax and to be updated on my family and friends' lives back at home. It keeps me happy," she said, adding that she uses a tablet and a smartphone for her nocturnal happy hours.

And it is all free, because her employers allow her to use their home's Wi-Fi network.

Not everyone is as lucky, though.

The growing desire among maids and foreign workers to go online has driven them to great lengths to stay connected.

This, however, has led to tensions with some employers who worry that the workers will neglect their duties.

But there is little they can do to control this cyber craving as many workers are more than willing to splurge on Internet access.

Many interviewed said they spend about $50 a month, a sizeable chunk of their salaries of between $500 and $700, to top up pre-paid cards for their mobile phones.

Telcos SingTel, StarHub and M1 told The Sunday Times they recognise that there is a growing demand for mobile data among foreign workers, who form the bulk of their pre-paid customer base.

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