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Singapore’s IMDA, Telcos Revamp Mobile Plans to Aid Seniors

Leading telcos in Singapore announced via news releases that they are revamping their mobile plans, with some starting from as low as S$5 monthly, to help the elderly and disadvantaged adopt digital technology.

This is being done as part of the Seniors Go Digital programme launched by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). This is to encourage digital adoption among seniors as well as providing financial assistance to lower-income seniors who want to go digital but cannot afford smartphones and mobile plans.

The IMDA develops and regulates the converging Infocomm and media sectors holistically, creating a dynamic and exciting sector filled with growth opportunities, through an emphasis on talent, research, innovation and enterprise. As a statutory board in the Singapore government, it seeks to deepen regulatory capabilities for a converged Infocomm media.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and with everyone asked to stay at home as much as possible, having access to the web is more important than ever and the IMDA wants to ensure as many people as possible have access to the internet.

To reach out to seniors, the IMDA is launching its own “Mobile Access for Seniors” scheme in conjunction with four of the five telcos. Under the scheme, seniors who qualify will be able to subscribe to a one-year mobile plan at only S$5 a month, and a subsidised smartphone starting from S$20. Eligible seniors may register their interest in the scheme with IMDA’s Digital Ambassadors after attending an organised Seniors Go Digital learning programme and picked up at least one basic digital skill, such as basic digital communication skills, navigating government digital services, or transacting with e-payments. They will be informed of the outcome via mail, subject to the availability of the Mobile Access Plans.

The subsidised plan will come with a minimum of:

  • Free SIM card registration
  • Free caller ID
  • Unlimited incoming local calls
  • Continued mobile data connectivity, with no excess data charges; and
  • Other value-added services

In addition to the plan organised by the IMDA, the telcos are also launching their senior-friendly mobile plans that cover both SIM-only and handset included plans.

In addition to the elderly, one of the telcos is making these mobile plans available to registered clients of the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) and the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) as well as Persons with Disabilities concession cardholders. According to the telco, these plans are available for subscription by eligible parties as of today.

Unlike the other telcos, one telco’s SIM-only, the no-contract senior plan is at the same price point as the IMDA subsidised plan. But there are some caveats. Firstly, subscribers will be entitled to 20GB of local data at full 4G speeds. After this, data speeds will be throttled at 512Kbps until the next month. Most importantly, according to this telco, the price for this plan is only applicable until 31 July 2021. After this period, the price for this is meant to increase to S$10 a month.

However, the telco just announced that due to the popularity of the plan, they are extending the Seniors Plan until November 2024 with the same quality of service and terms and conditions.

In Singapore, the lack of contact with other family members was one outcome of the Circuit Breaker period during the COVID-19 pandemic when families were unable to visit each other. While the IMDA and telcos did their bit to keep us occupied at home, the elderly said they felt a sense of alienation as they were not tech-savvy enough to keep in touch with other family members.

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