It has been reported today that YTL Communications, the company behind Yes4G broadband services, an Internet service provider, pays only RM120 a year rental (Or RM10/month) for each base station that it builds within 3,203 Malaysian school compound.
These “1BestariNet Receiver Integrated System (1BRIS) telecommunication towers” are also used to offer commercial Yes4G broadband services via WiMAX and 4G LTE technology. YTL says that its Yes4G service “deliver world-class Internet service to 85% of Malaysia,”
MP Zairil Khir Johari noted that the government’s Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) had in January 2013 recommended a low rental rate of RM1,200 a month for each of the 3,203 schools nationwide that would have earned the Ministry of Education (MOE) some RM46.12 million a year.
However, he noted the MOE had slashed the price further to RM1,000 a month for each school in 2014, after YTL cried foul by claiming the rental charge was not in the contract, and asked if the decision was “incompetence or deliberate?”
He pointed out that the financial mismanagement was compounded by a bureaucratic bungle that miscommunicated the total YTL would have to pay to a paltry RM120 a year per site or RM384,360 a year for all 3,203 schools.
“The difference between this and JPPH’s initial recommendation is a whopping RM45.73 million, or more than 99 per cent,” the DAP parliamentary representative for Education, Science and Technology said.
At the moment, it is unclear if the cost of electricity for the towers are paid by the schools or YTL.
Based on reliable information obtained by MalaysianWireless, it is learned that the market rate for a single base station, built within a school compound cost RM3,000/month in city areas and RM2,000/month in rural areas. These rental fee does not include the electricity cost which is around RM300 to RM500 a month, per base station.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has yet to explain on how YTL managed to obtain such low rental pricing for the base stations.
Yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found the Education Ministry guilty of contract mismanagement in their RM4 billion 1BestariNet project for schools. It wants the Auditor General (A-G) Department to undertake a second review of the 1BestariNet project, according to media reports.
In 2014, it was reported that YTL Communications Sdn Bhd was 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. The A-G said that 89.1% of the schools surveyed and 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 A-G report also noted that usage of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) by teachers, students and parents was said to be between 0.01% and 4.69% only. The VLE is powered by FrogAsia, a YTL company.