This is an example of a transmission tower that has sprouted in a school in Penang believed to be linked to YTL’s 1BestariNet project. Each tower is believed to have a 4km range. More than 1500 such towers have been built in schools around the country.
I have just one question: Do schools in developed nations have such large towers in their premises?
Here is one school that says it has removed the tower.
MP Zairil Khir Johari has been critical of the project:
The rollout of 1BestariNet also includes the erection of telecommunications towers in and around school compounds. As at 31 May 2013, 1,503 1BRIS (1BestariNet Receiver Integrated System) towers have been built and are in operation, while 281 have been built but not yet operational. 53 1BRIS towers are still under construction.
The installation of these telecommunications towers raises quite a few questions. According to a report by fz.com on 10 May 2013, YTL director Yeoh Seok Hong is quoted as saying that the “towers going up at the schools won’t just provide wireless Internet connectivity at the school, but in surrounding areas too.” In other words, YTL will effectively be able to use these towers to offer their YES 4G broadband services to residents in the surrounding community.
If that is the case, then it is necessary for the Ministry of Education to explain the following:
Are taxpayers effectively funding the commercial expansion of YTL’s YES 4G network?
Why is YTL allowed to generate additional profits from infrastructure installed on school premises and meant for educational use?
Will YTL be charged a fee for using school land for commercial purposes?
According to a report on Digital News Asia:
The (1BestariNet) project was mooted at one of the many labs or brainstorming sessions organized by the Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu) of the Prime Minister’s Department as part of the Malaysian Government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).
Then in 2011, a tender was announced with 19 companies making bids. By August, they had been shortlisted to six: Celcom Axiata, Jaring Communications, Maxis, Multimedia Synergy Corp, Telekom Malaysia/Time dotCom Bhd (which submitted a joint bid) and YTL Communications.
Then something unusual happened: In October of that year, without much fanfare, the Ministry of Education posted a notice on its website that the project had been awarded to YTL, which operates the YES 4G wireless network – then took down the notice two hours later.
Those two hours were enough to foment murmurs of discontent throughout the industry, especially since the VLE solution would be provided by another YTL-owned company, FrogAsia.
This was followed by a period of silence until May 2012 when YTL Communications, part of the politically-connected YTL Power International Bhd, officially announced that it had been awarded the project and would be rolling out the first phase.
According to Zairil, the three major projects that have been awarded to YTL are as follows:
- High-speed 4G broadband under the 1BestariNet programme to all schools (RM663 million for a contract of 2.5 years);
- A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) platform for teachers, students and parents (RM250.5 million for fixed-term licensing fees and RM262.8 million for management and maintenance costs); and
- Chromebooks under the 1 Student 1 Device programme (RM139.6 million for an initial order of 116,399 units at a cost of RM1,200 per unit).