With a day to go before the 2G mobile network shuts down fully, construction worker M Rajesh, 29, is relieved that he had just migrated to 3G and had no loss of network.
Mr Rajesh, who has been working here for eight years, had heard about the shutdown but had no time to buy a 3G-enabled handset. Cost was also an issue, he told TODAY, and he needed to build up his savings to buy a new phone.
So on Saturday, he went to Little India and returned with an HTC smartphone for “around S$180”. Now he can take photos with his phone and make video calls back home to India.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said last month that the 2G network will be shut down from April 1 in stages, to be completed by tomorrow.
A TODAY straw poll of 20 migrant workers near their dormitories found that everyone had switched to 3G, some as early as eight months ago.
Price was a concern many of them shared; some of their smartphones cost as much as S$300. While some had bought 3G-enabled phones costing S$40, they said prices have risen following news of the 2G network closure.
Mr Motiurrahmen, a worker with a piling company who goes by one name, said his S$40 Samsung phone used to cost “only around S$18”.
The Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) said in a media statement that it had ramped up outreach efforts over the weekend to ensure workers do not “risk losing contact with their loved ones in the coming days”.
MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said: “Migrant workers seeking to migrate onto 3G network can do so at telco outlets in recreation centres or larger dormitories, as well as at the regular weekend telco roadshows in popular congregation spots. Our telco partners will continue to offer attractive migration packages.”
He added that outreach efforts so far by the telcos and non-governmental organisations have had an effect.
“Checks with our telco partners showed that 65 per cent of the 2G users have already migrated to the 3G network since the various outreach campaigns on 2G cessation started,” he said.
Mr Yeo noted that a large proportion of the remaining 2G users, estimated to be between 60,000 and 80,000 last week, held a dual-SIM smartphone. This means they will have mobile network access even after the 2G network shuts down for good.
The workers TODAY spoke to said largely that their transition to 3G was smooth. They have not encountered much issues, although Mr Kawsal, who goes by one name, said he had occasional problems accessing the Internet on his phone since the 2G network closure commenced.
The MWC said it had received feedback from users of certain dual-SIM smartphones that some had difficulties accessing 3G.
To this end, it has devised a graphic to provide clarification, and users experiencing technical issues can either troubleshoot their handsets themselves or approach their telco operator for assistance.
Still, despite the slightly higher costs and these slight hiccups, migrant workers said they appreciate the added benefits, including catching up on television shows online from back home.
Shipyard worker Khan Juwel said he was also able to catch up with friends from home via Facebook. “It’s very good. I like it,” he said with a smile.