SINGAPORE — For no more than S$6 a month, eligible low-income households are set to get fibre broadband Internet access for four years, with the launch of the S$10 million Digital Inclusion (DI) Fund aimed at ensuring that the less well-off can keep up with advances in the digital landscape.
These households — which have a monthly household income of less than S$1,900 and no school-going children — will also get a basic computing device.
Altogether, this programme under the DI Fund — called the Home Access programme — is set to benefit about 8,000 households.
First announced in April, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim shared more details of the DI Fund at Silver Infocomm Day held at ITE College East yesterday.
A survey by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) last year showed 13 per cent of resident households do not have Internet access. Of these, 9 per cent said they could not afford Internet access at home.
Delivering his speech at ITE College East yesterday, Dr Yaacob said: “As the use of ICT becomes ever more pervasive, there is a need to raise the level of adoption of infocomm, especially among the low-income households. This will ensure they can benefit and enjoy the improvements and services brought about by new technology.”
Of the 8,000 eligible households, about 5,000 will pre-qualify for Home Access because they are on existing government financial assistance schemes, the IDA said. Households in this group will start receiving letters in November on how to sign up. Other eligible households may apply directly to processing agencies — including Yayasan MENDAKI, Chinese Development Assistance Council and Singapore Indian Development Association — from April next year.
The IDA will appoint one or more supporting industry players for this scheme by the middle of next month and details will be made available on the IDA corporate website. The DI Fund will also support the Social Innovation Grant, which was launched to encourage voluntary welfare organisations in the social service sector to adopt IT solutions that will help them provide better assistance and services for their beneficiaries.
About 10 projects will be funded up to 75 per cent of the project cost, with a cap of S$100,000 per project.
Meanwhile, the Government has also enhanced existing schemes that help Singaporeans tap technology.
The qualifying income cap for NEU PC Plus scheme — which helps students or people with disabilities with computer ownership and broadband services at affordable prices — has been raised from S$2,700 to S$3,000. The per capita income cap has been raised from S$700 to S$800.
From Nov 1, the reapplication period will be shortened from four to three years and eligible new applicants will also enjoy faster Internet connection of 100Mbps. About 19,000 low-income households have benefited from the programme since it started in 2006 and the IDA expects at least another 6,000 households to benefit from the enhancements.