Need for low-cost essential phone service as a public good

With the phasing out of 2G phone transmissions, what will the telcos and the authorities do to help the significant number of users who find upgrading to a smartphone too costly but may still need one to make the occasional urgent call?

They cannot depend on public pay phones, as these are rapidly disappearing.

Furthermore, in an emergency, when mobile transmission fails, people would have no ready backup.

Redundancy as a basic engineering safety and security requirement seems to have been thrown out the window in favour of cost savings.

Between postpaid and prepaid SIMs, the latter is more cost-effective.

Basic phone connectivity for talking and messaging should be provided as an essential public service at minimal cost to consumers.

Unfortunately, prepaid SIM phones are not accepted when one-time passwordsare issued for certain electronic transactions.

Basic phone connectivity for talking and messaging should be provided as an essential public service at minimal cost to consumers.

The pricing of a basic service in a postpaid mobile phone should be pegged at a level that is affordable even to a person with little financial means.

Would the telcos consider introducing an attractive low-cost basic service as a social good?

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2017, with the headline 'Need for low-cost essential phone service as a public good'. Print Edition | Subscribe