Digital Inclusion Fund to help low income households access Internet – 03Apr2014

Digital Inclusion Fund to help low income households access Internet – 03Apr2014

SINGAPORE: A new $8 million Digital Inclusion (DI) Fund will be set up in the second half of this year to help low-income households access the Internet.

Half of the fund will come from fines collected from the telecom sector.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim announced this at the ministry’s Workplan Seminar on Thursday.

Dr Yaacob also gave details of a new TV Audience Measurement system.

The Digital Inclusion Fund targets some 6,000 low-income households, without school-going children.

They will benefit from Internet access, including digital voice calls and home security.

It is hoped that the fund will help bridge the digital divide.

Dr Yaacob said: “The Internet today is increasingly becoming a utility for individuals, households and organisations. The government has been stepping up its efforts at digital inclusion to ensure that no segment of the community is excluded from the benefits that the Internet can bring – for example, access to information and e-services.”

Fines collected from telecom licensees since 2011 will help pay for the fund.

Other than raising the adoption of infocomm for low-income households, part of the fund will also go towards helping voluntary welfare organisations better manage the well-being of beneficiaries with relevant technology.

And from June, more low-income households with school-going children, as well as people with disabilities, will benefit from an enhanced scheme which offers families a new computer, bundled with free broadband access at an affordable price.

The NEU PC Plus Programme will raise the monthly household income cap from $2,700 to $3,000 and Per Capita Income from $700 to $800.

The programme also includes the iNSPIRE Fund – which helps applicants who cannot afford the co-payment amount to earn their PC by doing some form of community service.

The iNSPIRE Fund will revise the community service hours students have to put in.

For example, applicants below the age of 15 years old will have to put in three hours of community service for a desktop, as compared to the previous six hours, and six hours of community service for a laptop, as compared to the previous 12 hours.

Separately, a new TV Audience Measurement system will be established so that content carriers will have a better understanding of the preferences of audiences.

This integrated national data system measures media consumption across free-to-air TV, cable TV, online and mobile platforms.

The Television Audience Measurement Data was re-designed to keep pace with changing media consumption habits, as audiences watch content on multiple platforms.

What this measurement system means for viewers is that they can expect better programming based on personal preferences and they can look forward to more information, such as what the most popular programmes are.

Mr Kenneth Tan, Assistant CEO of Assessment at Media Development Authority, said: “The challenge right now with existing systems is that they don’t measure all of the platforms consumption at the same time, so attempts to co-relate are patchy at best. It will be exciting for us. We will see what comes back. We are right now in a consultation process of putting together a set of specifications, wish list if you will, on what we want the new system to provide.”

A tender will be called by the third quarter of 2014. Results of the tender will be announced in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The data is expected to be ready for use by January 2016, even as a parallel trial is done in 2015.

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