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YTL Communications fined RM2.4 million by Education Ministry over 1BestariNet

Yes4G WiMAX Internet Service Provider (ISP), YTL Communications Sdn Bhd has been fined RM2.4 million by the Malaysia Ministry of Education(MoE) for failing to provide all 10,000 schools with the 1BestariNet e-learning project, according to reports today.

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In response to findings from the Auditor-General’s 2013 Report (Series 3) released today, the Ministry said YTL Communications (YTLC), the company which was awarded the project, had yet to equip 1,003 schools with the service as it had not obtained a permit for the construction of telecommunications towers, specifically in Sarawak, Penang and Kelantan.

“Due to the delays, the government had fined YTL Communications RM2.4 million on October 27, 2014,” the Education Ministry said in a statement.

For those schools which have yet to be connected with the service, the Ministry has provided interim internet service from other service providers (USB dongles,etc) so that these schools can continue its online learning activities.

As of September 17, some 8,886 schools were equipped with the 1BestariNet infrastructure with wireless connectivity.

The Auditor-General’s (A-G) report also revealed today that the Internet connection to 4,176 users of the RM663 million 1BestariNet project was delayed by between 12 and 439 days, with no time extension or fines levied.

The A-G also said that 89.1% of the 46 schools surveyed and 70.3% of the 491 feedback received by the schools found that 1BestariNet coverage does not cover the school’s entire compound and total Internet speeds up to 4Mbps was unsatisfactory.

The rental price of RM1,000 per year for each site of the 1BestariNet Receiver Integrated System (1BRIS) throughout the country was unreasonable.

“MOE should charge rental according to the rental rate that had been proposed by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) and utility to the contractor for 1BestariNet Receiver Integrated System (1BRIS) that is built in the school compounds,” said the report.

The audit added that the antivirus software supplied was not used either.

In revealing a litany of shortcomings in the project awarded to YTL Communications to provide the infrastructure to 10,000 schools nationwide , the A-G report also noted that usage of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE ) by teachers, students and parents was “very low”, said to be between 0.01% and 4.69% only.

Daily utilisation of the e-learning by students was found to be between 0.17% and 0.63%, while usage by teachers was from 0.57% to 4.69%. The usage of the e-learning by parents was the lowest, at between 0.01% and 0.03%.

The A-G attributed the low usage to lack of clear policy and monitoring, lack of exposure to the benefits of VLE as well as a lack of teaching aids, such as projectors and laptops.

But the Education Ministry today shrugged off the findings that only 5% of students are using the project, saying that the lack of usage was common for new ICT programmes.

1BestariNet is a project initiated by the Malaysian Ministry of Education (MOE) and carried out in partnership with YTL Communications. Under the project, 10,000 primary and secondary public schools in Malaysia will be equipped with “high-speed 4G Internet access” and a virtual learning platform within 30 months from December 13, 2011, providing high-speed Internet connectivity and access to a “world-class Integrated Learning Solution”.

The Education Ministry’s procurement board, through an open tender evaluation, had decided that the 1BestariNet project should be implemented within 15 years at RM4.077 billion.

DAP’s Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said last Thursday that the project has cost taxpayers more than RM1 billion to date, breaking it down to RM663 million for a 2.5 year broadband internet contract, RM250.3 million for VLE licencing fees and RM262.8 million for management and maintenance costs.

[Source 1]– The MalaysianInsider

[Source 2]– The MalayMail Online

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy