Fines go to fund to help needy get connected digitally

Ms Vanessa Chan asked if financial penalties imposed on telecom companies such as NetLink Trust and Singtel would be used to compensate affected consumers ("Will fines benefit consumers?"; Oct 27).

Since September last year, financial penalties collected by the Infocomm Development Authority have contributed towards the Digital Inclusion (DI) Fund.

The DI Fund provides financial assistance to low-income individuals and households to help them get digitally connected.

It also supports social innovations that can help volunteer welfare organisations in the social service sector to better manage the well-being of their beneficiaries.

For example, the Home Access Programme provides home fibre Internet access and a tablet at $6 per month, for low-income families to access the Internet and make digital voice calls.

This is similar to how financial penalties against public transport operators are donated to the Public Transport Fund to help needy families with transport fares.

Financial penalties imposed for contraventions of the Quality of Service frameworks or the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resiliency are meant to signal to service providers to proactively improve telecom services provided to their customers.

Offers of compensation typically depend on the discretion of the service providers.

However, IDA is of the view that service providers should help customers affected by service disruptions.

We also take into consideration the assistance and compensation service providers offer to affected customers when investigating such disruptions.

Lim Keng Soon

Deputy Director

Government and Policy Communications

Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Fines go to fund to help needy get connected digitally'. Print Edition | Subscribe