Coronavirus: Internet infrastructure to be upgraded and more free content made available for all

High internet traffic has shifted from the office and commercial spaces to people's homes. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Telecommunication infrastructure will be beefed up to improve Internet services in residential areas, and more news and entertainment content will be available free to users, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Wednesday (April 8).

The moves are in response to the new "circuit breaker" measures that will require much of the population to work and study from home.

The IMDA said it will support local telcos to upgrade networks and bolster Singapore's nationwide capacity to "ensure that individuals, households and businesses continue to enjoy the smooth functioning of essential services and online activities from home".

The upgrades are expected to ensure consistent network coverage in residential areas now that high Internet traffic has shifted from the office and commercial spaces to people's homes.

The IMDA has also worked with Mediacorp and pay-TV operators Singtel and StarHub to make more content available to the public for free, even if they are not subscribers to existing services.

Mediacorp, for example, will extend the time belts for its free Suria and Vasantham channels with immediate effect. Both channels will start transmission at 9am daily during the circuit-breaker period instead of the usual time of around 3pm.

Singtel will increase the number of free preview channels to 30, from Thursday. Non-subscribers can access these channels via the firm's Cast streaming service.

StarHub subscribers will have access to 32 free channels.

Content across Singtel and StarHub covers a wide range of genres, including children's channels such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, info-tainment on BBC Earth and Korean entertainment channel Oh!K.

Changes are also being made to the NEU PC Plus scheme to support low-income students who require subsidised computers and fibre broadband access.

Families with three or more schoolgoing children, for example, can opt for a second subsidised computer.

Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said: "We want to help all Singaporeans and residents to remain connected, productive and entertained.

"These initiatives to enhance digital connectivity, content and access are part of our national effort to work with all Singaporeans and residents to stay home and comply with the circuit-breaker measures. Together, we can overcome."

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