Ultimate Guide to the Cheapest Senior Mobile Phone Plans in Singapore
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Ultimate Guide to the Cheapest Senior Mobile Phone Plans in Singapore

Joel Koh
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Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a shift in the way we lead our lives in Singapore.

In a bid to stem the spread of the virus, we have to live with the Circuit Breaker Measures; where we are encouraged to stay at home as far as possible.

As a result, having access to the internet is more important than ever; as it allows us to lead our lives with a degree of normalcy and connect to our friends.

To help connect everyone, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has launched the Seniors Go Digital programme to encourage digital adoption among seniors and ensure that they are not left behind.

As part of this program, IMDA has partnered with the five major carriers in Singapore to provide smartphones and mobile plans at subsidised prices.

At the time of writing, M1, Singtel, Starhub and TPG have launched these subsidised plans for low-income seniors under IMDA’s Mobile Access for Seniors scheme.

Circles.Life is also a partner, but it has yet to announce details about their plans.
In addition to these subsidised plans, the telcos have also released non-subsidised senior-friendly mobile plans with more relaxed criteria for other seniors as well.

These plans are branded as the Seniors Go Digital Mobile plans.

Which of these plans are best for you or the seniors in your life?

Let’s compare them to find out!.

TL;DR: Cheapest Senior Mobile Plans Comparison

 M1SingtelStarHubTPG
Plan Cost (monthly)$5
Contract Length1 year
Data (GB)65820
Talktime (mins)100150350300
Local SMS205020030
Coverage ranking#3#2#1#4
Bundled Phone ($20)*OPPO A12Vivo Y1SLenovo A7
Bundled Phone & Cost*Huawei Y6s: $31Realme C3: $40 Huawei Y6s: $38Vivo Y1S: $40
Bundled Phone & Cost*Samsung Galaxy A11: $46
Samsung Galaxy A11: $58
Samsung Galaxy A11: $60

The above table is a broad overview of the subsidised IMDA’s Mobile Access for Seniors plans for low-income seniors.

Note: information correct of 29 July 2020

Singapore Mobile Network Comparison

Before we begin this comparison, it is important for you to know the quality of network coverage M1, Singtel, Starhub and TPG provide.

FYI: Circles.Life uses M1’s network.

With that, we refer to the latest IMDA quality of service performance report for 4G mobile services for October – December 2019.

The performance results for Q1 2020 will be published in Q2 2020.

To evaluate 4G cellular mobile coverage in Singapore, the report covers three main indicators:

  • Nationwide outdoor service coverage
  • In-building service coverage
  • Tunnel service coverage.

But, do note that individual experience may differ due to different models of handset used, handset settings, number of users in the vicinity, etc.

Nationwide Outdoor Service Coverage

First up we have the nationwide outdoor service coverage indicator, which measures the 4G signal strength in areas like housing estates/town centres, outdoor recreational areas and above ground MRT tracks.

The surveys test the telco’s mobile network’s ability to provide a minimum signal strength of -109dBm outdoors.

Under IMDA’s latest 4G Service Quality of Service (QoS) framework requirements, mobile operators are required to achieve nationwide outdoor service coverage of > 99%.

Nationwide Outdoor Service 4G Q4 2019
Source: IMDA

As you can see for outdoor coverage, the telcos are neck and neck with TPG lagging behind ever so slightly.

1st position: Singtel and Starhub with 99.97% on average for the coverage areas.

2nd position: M1 with 99.88% on average for the coverage areas.

3rd position: TPG with 99.77% on average for the coverage areas.

But, in reality, I think that you will not notice the difference while using your phone outdoors.

In-building Service Coverage

Next up we have in-building coverage.

This indicator measures the telco’s mobile network’s ability to provide 4G service coverage in more than 85% of the building’s area to consider to have passed.

Here are the results:

TelcosM1 SingtelStarhub
Number of buildings passed58/60 58/60 59/60
Source: IMDA

The testing was conducted at publicly accessible areas withing randomly selected buildings in Q4 2019. IMDA conducted the test at the same sixty buildings for the three telcos mobile network.

For the telcos that have failed IMDA’s compliance standard, they are required to improve coverage within the failed buildings within four months. After these four months, IMDA will conduct tests in the building again.

1st Position: Starhub

2nd Position: M1 and Singtel

The three telcos tested are neck and neck with Starhub edging ahead.

As for TPG, it will have to comply with the in-building service coverage standard from 1 January 2020.

TPG are currently excluded from this in-building service coverage standard test report as the results for their Q1 2020 test will only be published in Q2 2020. 

Tunnel Service Coverage

Last but not least we have the tunnel service coverage indicator which measures the 4G signal strength in all road and MRT tunnels in Singapore.

The surveys test the telco’s mobile network’s ability to provide a minimum signal strength of -109dBm in the tunnels.

Under IMDA’s latest 4G Service Quality of Service (QoS) framework requirements, mobile operators are required to achieve coverage of > 99% for the road and MRT tunnels.

During the Q4 2019 performance survey, IMDA used mobile phones to test the 4G cellular mobile network signal strength and collected multiple data points.

Here are the results:

M1M1Singtel MobileStarHub Mobile
Central Expressway (Road Tunnel)Pass
Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (Road Tunnel)*Pass
Fort Canning Tunnel (Road Tunnel)Pass
Woodsville Tunnel (Road Tunnel)Pass
Marina Costal Expressway (Road Tunnel)Pass
North South Line (MRT Tunnel)Pass
East West Line (MRT Tunnel)Pass
Changi Airport Line (MRT Tunnel)Pass
Circle Line (MRT Tunnel)Pass
North East Line (MRT Tunnel)Pass
Downtown Line (MRT Tunnel)Pass

According to IMDA’s testing, there is little to separate these three telcos.

As for TPG, it will have to comply with the road tunnel service coverage standard from 1 January 2020.

TPG are currently excluded from this road tunnel service coverage standard test as the results for their Q1 2020 test will only be published in Q2 2020. 

But according to TPG, the company claims to have completed mobile coverage deployment in these tunnels:

  • Fort Canning
  • Woodsville
  • Sentosa Gateway
  • Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL)
  • Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway

However, TPG has yet to complete its deployment in these tunnels and have pledged to so by end 2020 – mid-2021:

  • North-East Line (NEL) – Q3 2020
  • Changi Airport Line (Along EWL) – Q4 2020

Q2 2021

  • Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE)
  • North-South and East-West Lines (NSL/EWL)
  • Circle Line (CCL)
  • Downtown Line (DTL)

Overall Mobile Network Coverage

Overall in terms of coverage, Starhub is in first place as it is tied with Singtel for the best coverage outdoors. They also provide the best coverage in buildings and are about tied with Singtel and  M1 for coverage in tunnels.

Singtel takes second place they are tied with Starhub for outdoor coverage, lose out slightly to Starhub in buildings and are about tied with Starhub and M1 for coverage in tunnels.

M1 comes in third place as their outdoor coverage is behind Starhub and Singtel, behind Starhub in buildings are about tied with Starhub and Singtel for coverage in tunnels.

TPG comes in last as they are lagging behind all the other telcos in outdoor coverage. For their building coverage, the results are still unknown so it is too early to tell.

But for its tunnel coverage, I would think that it would be less than ideal as they have yet to deploy their mobile coverage in many tunnels.

Do keep this in mind when you choose your telcos.

IMDA’s Subsidised Mobile Plans for Seniors

IMDA has provided subsidised mobile plans for seniors through the Mobile Access for Seniors scheme.

Put simply, it provides seniors that are not too well off with subsidised mobile phone plans and smartphones to help them go digital.

Who Can Apply?

CategoryQualifying Criteria
Age 60 years old and above (based on your birth year)
Citizenship Singapore Citizen
Current beneficiary of the selected government assistance scheme MSF’s ComCare Long Term Assistance (LTA)
MSF’s ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA) OR
HDB’s Public Rental Scheme
Others Not an existing IMDA Home Access beneficiary who has received a smartphone

On top of meeting the above-mentioned qualifying criteria, you are required to attend IMDA’s Seniors Go Digital – Learning programme and learnt at least one basic digital skill at SG Digital community.

Mobile Access For Seniors Plan Comparison

 M1SingtelStarHubTPG
Plan Cost (monthly)$5
Contract Length1 year
Data (GB)65820
Talktime (mins)100150350300
Local SMS205020030
Coverage ranking#3#2#1#4
Bundled Phone ($20)*OPPO A12Vivo Y1SLenovo A7
Bundled Phone & Cost*Huawei Y6s: $31Realme C3: $40 Huawei Y6s: $38Vivo Y1S: $40
Bundled Phone & Cost*Samsung Galaxy A11: $46
Samsung Galaxy A11: $58
Samsung Galaxy A11: $60

*Payment for bundled smartphones is a one-time cost.

In addition, all these subsidised plans will come with the following FREE added perks:

  • Waiver of SIM card registration fees
  • Free caller ID
  • Free unlimited incoming local calls
  • Continued mobile data connectivity, with no excess data charges
  • Other value-added services.

Do note that these plans are also subject to the terms and conditions set by the participating telcos.

For M1, Singtel and Starhub, the plan will revert to $10/month after the end of the contract from the 13 month onwards.

Similarly for TPG, the $5 is a promotional price till 31 July 2021, after which it will be priced at $10 for 30 days.

How to Apply?

You can look for the Digital Ambassadors at any of the SG Digital community hubs to apply.

Also, only one registration is needed for the Mobile Access Plan.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail.

Seniors Go Digital Mobile Plans: SIM-Only Plans Comparison

In addition to the subsidised Mobile Access for Seniors Mobile Plans, the telcos are also offering Seniors Go Digital Plans for all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents aged 60 and above (based on birth year).

Each Senior may use his/her NRIC for one postpaid mobile line only. The Senior must also sign up personally and the mobile line must be registered under Senior’s name.

Here is our comparison of the Seniors Go Digital SIM-Only Plans:

 M1 (With Silver Benefits)SingtelStarHub (no-contract)StarHub (1-year plan)TPG
Plan cost (monthly)$18.75$20S$8$20$5
Contract LengthNo-contract12 monthsNo-contract12 monthsNo-contract
Data (GB)30205 (1 + free 4)30 (5 + free 25)Unlimited:
First 20gb at 4G speeds
Subsequent data at capped speed of 512Kbps
Outgoing Calls (mins)1000150350Free unlimited talktime300
Incoming Calls Free
Local SMS1000500-30
Caller IDN.A. (available for $5.35/month)N.A. (available for $5.35/month with $10.70 setup fee)FREE Caller ID
Other PerksFree 3-months of Viu Premium and TVBAnywhere+ subscriptionData-free WhatsApp-+1GB roaming data to selected countries
No Excess Data Charges Above 20GB.

M1 Terms & Conditions

Currently, only signups at M1 shops or exclusive distributors are available. Online signups will only be available at a later date.

Singtel Terms & Conditions

Singtel is also offering FREE Digital Wednesday Workshops from 9am-11am at any of its eight main Singtel Shops

Starhub Terms & Conditions

Starhub are also offering these plans to the following groups:

  • Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) clients
  • Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) clients
  • Persons with Disabilities concession cardholders.

Do note that the promotional rate and promotional extra free data for the $8 SIM Only (no-contract) plan and $20 (U.P. $25) SIM Only 1-year plan are only valid for 12 months upon date of sign up.

TPG Terms and Conditions

Subscribers to the TPG plan will be entitled to unlimited data. However, they will only get to enjoy the first 20GB of local data at 4G speeds. 

Subsequently, any data use above 20GB will be throttled at 512Kbps until the next monthly bill cycle.

Additional Information

For M1, Singtel and Starhub, the plan will revert to $10/month after the end of the contract from the 13 month onwards.

Similarly for TPG, the $5 is a promotional price till 31 July 2021, after which it will be priced at $10 for 30 days.

Seniors Go Digital Mobile Plans: Plan With Device Comparison

In addition, under the Seniors Go Digital Plans, there is also the option of plans with devices which are subject to the same terms and conditions.

Here is our comparison of these plans:

 M1 (With Silver Benefits)M1 (With Silver Benefits)M1 (With Silver Benefits)Singtel Go Digital Combo 2Singtel Go Digital Combo 3StarHub*StarHub*
Plan cost (monthly)$30.00$37.50$58.50$34$49S$40$60
Contract Length24 months
Data (GB)12174223 + 3 local data15 (5 + free 10)
40 (30 + free 10)
Local calls (mins)100200300200200Free unlimited talktimeFree unlimited talktime
Local SMS1002003001000Unlimited local SMS--
Caller IDN.A. (available for $5.35/month)N.A. (available for $5.35/month with $10.70 setup fee)FREE Caller ID
Other FREE PerksFree 3-month subscriptions:
Viu Premium
TVBAnywhere+
FoneCare+
--Data-free WhatsApp
Free phone (selected devices only)
Data-free WhatsApp
Free phone (selected devices only)
3 FREE months of ZoneAlarm

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*For Starhub, do note that the promotional rate and the promotional extra free data for the $40 (U.P. $55) SIM-Only (no-contract) plan and $60 (U.P. $80) SIM Only 1-year plan are only valid for 24 months upon date of sign up.

Want More Insight Into The Telcos Mentioned?

Check out the reviews from real users and their experience with these telcos!

About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events, as well as financial transactions and models.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

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