Wider variety of mobile plans and financial assistance for seniors to help them go digital

Wider variety of mobile plans and financial assistance for seniors to help them go digital

Elderly man using mobile phone
An elderly man using a mobile phone. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Five mobile service providers will start rolling out mobile plans with “larger data bundles at a lower cost” for seniors from Monday (Jun 29), while another new initiative will provide lower-income seniors with subsidised smartphones and data plans.

Announced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the newly formed SG Digital Office (SDO) in a joint release, these initiatives are part of the Seniors Go Digital programme which was launched last month with the aim to raise the digital skills of 100,000 seniors by the end of this year.

Singtel, M1, StarHub, Circles.Life and TPG will start rolling out the customised mobile plans for seniors progressively from Monday, the press release said.

There will be variety of price plans and service offerings from these operators, it added.

“These special plans, available to all seniors, offer larger data bundles at a lower cost, to give seniors the confidence to enjoy the benefits that digital services bring.”

READ: 1,000 digital ambassadors to be recruited to help stallholders, seniors go online

Another initiative, called the Mobile Access for Seniors, will provide eligible lower-income seniors with a subsidised smartphone and a one-year subsidised mobile data plan from M1, Singtel, StarHub or TPG.

Those eligible can choose to purchase a basic smartphone with co-payment starting from S$20 and S$5 monthly mobile plans that offer at least 5GB of data.

The data plans will also include complimentary value-added services like caller number display and cybersecurity protection. There will be no excess data charges so as to give seniors a “greater peace of mind”, said the press release.

The new initiative will be available for sign-ups next month. Seniors can do so after attending classes under the Seniors Go Digital programme to acquire at least one basic digital skills. They must also be Singaporeans aged 60 and above, and are current beneficiaries of selected government assistance schemes.

Speaking to reporters at an online doorstop, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said these initiatives will help to address concerns about cost among seniors.

Mr Iswaran also provided an update on the country’s digitalisation efforts, which he described as making “good progress”.

These efforts have been ramped up in light of challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as setting up the SDO in May and forming a new ministerial committee to oversee the digitalisation push.

Under the SDO, digital ambassadors have been recruited with the aim of reaching out to seniors, as well as hawkers and wet market stallholders, and encourage them to adopt digital tools.

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Mr Iswaran said the first target of having these ambassadors cover all 112 hawker centres and wet markets in Singapore by June has been achieved. In fact, the ambassadors have gone beyond the target to cover an additional 500 coffeeshops.

“That is a very positive sign because it means that the execution is on track,” he said.

“The observation is that the message is getting through because even in this early stage, we already have one hawker centre that (is having a) 100 per cent adoption rate.

“This tells you that the stallholders are receiving the message, understanding it and translating it into action,” he said.

READ: COVID-19 drives more wet market stalls online, but will they be here to stay?

More than 300 youth volunteers from Youth Corps Singapore will also be reaching out to vulnerable seniors from 40 social service agencies from July 2020, the press release said.

These volunteers will help seniors pick up relevant digital skills such as using digital devices, communicating online and practising good cybersecurity hygiene.

IMDA also said on Monday that it has received a S$1 million donation from ST Engineering for its Digital Access Programmes (DAP).

This is the single largest contribution to the DAP to date, and is expected to support about 4,500 beneficiaries over the next 12 months.

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The donation will help to fund programmes such as the NEU PC Plus, Home Access and the new Mobile Access for Seniors, which aim to ensure that low-income households and individuals have access to digital devices and connectivity.

“The national movement to accelerate Singapore’s digitalisation is gaining strong momentum,” said Mr Iswaran, noting that many companies, community and individual volunteers are partnering the Government in its digitalisation efforts.

“Working together, we are now focusing our efforts to understand and address the concerns of different segments of our society, including seniors and hawkers.

“Everyone can play a part to make a meaningful and material difference in Singapore’s digitalisation efforts,” he said.

“We welcome more to join us in our national digitalisation movement.”

Source: CNA/sk(rw)

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