KUALA LUMPUR: YTL Communications Sdn Bhd has reiterated that it did not ask for any special preferences when it offered free Internet services to the Education Ministry while awaiting a fresh tender for the 1BestariNet contract.
In a statement issued today, the telco said it had offered in good faith and at the Ministry's request Internet services and the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (FrogVLE) at no charge to the Ministry from July 1 to Dec 31.
"The allegation that it is a 'hidden' cost is totally unfounded," it said in response to the Ministry's statement dated July 5.
According to the telco, the Ministry was aware it had to bear the cost of electricity supply to the telecommunications towers, which was clearly stated during YTL Communications' tender for the project
"The Ministry had accepted this for both phase 1 and phase 2. In fact, the phase 2 agreement was signed in 2016 (after review and taking into account the Auditor General’s report in 2013)," it said.
YTL Communications added that there would have been no loss of potential rental to the government as the telco would cover the cost of rental of the telecommunications towers as set by the Department of the Director General of Lands and Mines. It added that it did not rent out the towers to other telcos, and was the sole user of the facilities.
Furthermore, it said the contract would not have prevented the exploration of alternative technologies as claimed by the Ministry.
"Switching the entire school system to 3 new ISPs that are providing technology similar to what was provided under phase 2 is not exploring new technology," it said.
On service issues claimed by the Ministry, the telco highlighted that it had met all bandwidth specifications as determined by the Ministry under the contract. It also claimed the existing FrogVLE education platform has more features than Google Classroom, which was identified as a replacement platform
Despite this, on June 27 the Ministry proceeded to award the Internet services for the interim period to Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata and Maxis without responding to YTL Communications' offer, it said.
"If the Ministry had accepted our offer for the free services during the interim period, the Ministry would have saved millions, prevented disruption to the schools in the middle of the school year, as well as had the time to conduct a tender exercise following which they would have a properly defined solution and price."
YTL Communications added that it had not objected to the government's call for a fresh tender for the six months period in early 2019 despite a violation on the terms of its contract.
"The process by which each phase was to be awarded was clearly set out in the project documents; there would be a joint review on performance, changes in technology, basic educational needs and price prior to the expiry of each phase and before parties reach agreement on the next phase," it said.
YTL Communications said a review would have identified the areas of improvement for the next phase, with pricing set against current market prices and clarity as to implementation.