No ‘hidden costs’ in free Internet services

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 10 Jul 2019

PETALING JAYA: YTL Communi­cations Sdn Bhd has objected to the Education Ministry’s claim that there were “hidden costs” in its offer of free Internet services to the country’s schools prior to the call for an open tender for the service.

The telco offered in good faith and at the ministry’s request for Internet services and the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (FrogVLE) at no charge from July 1 to Dec 31, it said in a statement yesterday.

“The allegation that it is a ‘hidden’ cost is totally unfounded,” it added 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 telecommunication 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 said there would have been no loss of potential rental to the government as the telco would cover the cost of rental of the telecommunication towers as set by the director-general of the Lands and Mines Department.

It added that it did not rent out the towers to other telcos and was the sole user.

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 three 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 that the existing FrogVLE education platform had 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, said the telco.

“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,” it said.

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