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Singapore telecom networks to be upgraded as more residents work, learn at home: IMDA

SINGAPORE will make immediate investments in its telecom ecosystem, as the latest pandemic-related movement control measures push residents to hunker down at home.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is supporting telcos as they upgrade their networks and beef up national capacity.

These efforts will help to deliver “consistent network experiences at residential areas” as Internet users move from offices to their homes, the agency said on Wednesday.

That’s even as the IMDA also reaffirmed that the telecommunication infrastructure in the Republic “remains robust and stable with a healthy network buffer”.

“Our objective is to make sure that our overall national network remains resilient and has the capacity for the changing patterns and usage that we’re going to see and we’ve already seen,” Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran told reporters over video-conferencing.

He also noted that “significant enhancements” will likely be achieved over the next fortnight.

Meanwhile, the IMDA added that “capacity at potential high-traffic sites will also be progressively boosted”. With non-essential work curtailed and thousands of foreign workers under quarantine, dormitories are one such area of priority, according to Mr Iswaran.

The regulator had said on April 3, when a national “circuit breaker” was announced, that Singapore’s fixed and mobile networks have the capacity to cope with higher Internet use.

Still, “the IMDA is working with the telcos to see how in the coming weeks we can further enhance that capacity and buffer so that we are well prepared”, said Mr Iswaran.

The IMDA added in a statement that it “will continue to monitor the developments on telecommunications and digital use in Singapore and take further actions if needed”.

“Working with the telecommunications industry, we have taken additional steps to strengthen our network capacity and ensure connectivity for everyone,” Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran also said.

Other measures that the IMDA unveiled include ramped-up schemes to provide low-income students and households with subsidised broadband access and digital devices.

With school closures among the measures to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the monthly income threshold for free broadband access has been raised from S$2,500 to S$2,750 and all students on the Education Ministry’s financial assistance scheme automatically qualify.

On top of the usual fibre broadband option, unlimited mobile broadband will also be offered to households that may face difficulties installing fibre, such as those without termination points.

Households with at least three children of school-going age can also apply for a second subsidised personal computer, compared with just one under normal circumstances.

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