Thursday, November 25, 2010

MCMC - Errr! Say that again Mr Minister

The Star today reported [source]

THE price of netbooks under the 1Malaysia Netbooks Computer Initiative has been capped at RM1,000 each.

Information, Communications and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the sum was not only for the computers, but also for the software and six months’ broadband subscription.

“The 1Malaysia computer programme was allocated RM1bil under the Universal Service Provider (USP) fund to supply one million computers to those deserving, as announced by the Prime Minister on March 24,” he said in a written reply to Wee Choo Keong (Ind-Wangsa Maju).

Dr Rais also said that as at Nov 3, RM11.05mil had been disbursed to the USP license holder under the first phase of the programme.

“As at Nov 2, the USP fund had RM4.53bil in cash reserves,” he added.

On 09/11/2010 NST ran this report [here]. 

CYBERJAYA: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) revealed yesterday how the RM4.15 billion Universal Service Provision (USP) fund was spent. The bulk was used for the purchase of netbooks.
USP division acting senior director Zulkarnain Mohd Yassin said RM1 billion was spent to buy the netbooks as MCMC could not achieve some of the fund's objectives.

The MCMC came under scrutiny as questions were raised over the use of RM1billion from the fund to finance the netbooks when the allocation was meant for developing infra/connectivity in underserved areas, especially rural areas.

USP-funded projects are related to communications and multimedia, such as basic telephony, cellular coverage, Community Broadband Centres (CBC), Community Broadband Libraries (CBL) and People's Internet Centres (PIR).

As at Sept 30, the cumulative contribution from eligible licensees to the USP fund stood at RM4.15 billion.

Of the total, RM629.23 million was for basic telephony, telecommunication towers for expansion of cellular coverage (RM1.87 billion), CBC and CBL (RM573.7 million), Mini CBC and PIR (RM10 million) and 1Malaysia netbooks (RM1 billion).

Another RM150 million was for the expansion of broadband network coverage areas to the communities surrounding CBCs and CBLs, while some RM520 million had been set aside for collective broadband network and Kampung WiFi.

Another RM40 million was for "other collective broadband network projects".

This will leave a cash balance of RM380 million by next year.

Earlier, MCMC chairman Tan Sri Khalid Ramli gave a welcome address, noting that there had been much interest generated in the press relating to its work as an industry developer and regulator of the communications and multimedia sector in the country.

He was at the briefing conducted by Zulkarnain but was absent during the question-and-answer session.

Zulkarnain said 123,000 netbooks had been distributed under the first phase (2002-2008).

The remaining 300,000 netbooks under the second phase (2009-2011) would be distributed from next month. Students and low-income earners are expected to receive them by February.

A netbook costs RM830, with an additional RM80 for installation of Microsoft software and another RM2 for anti-virus software.

The remaining allocation will be spent in the third phase, where some 500,000 netbooks will be bought.

The third phase will be launched after the study on the effectiveness of the project in the first two phases is completed.

Zulkarnain said suppliers had stated that there would be no hiccups in supplying some 100,000 units a month under the second phase.

He named well-known manufacturers such as Dell, Samsung, Acer and HP. It is understood that the netbook has been rebranded as Idola.

"Logistically, it may be difficult as it will be the school holidays and monsoon season, but we are confident of distributing some 100,000 machines every month and will complete the roll-out in three months."

He said the recipients would be thoroughly vetted, not only by government authorities but also by community leaders and MCMC officers.

About 60 per cent of the recipients will be secondary school and university students. The rest of the netbooks will go to those in the low-income group.

Flanked by four senior MCMC personnel who interjected every now and then, Zulkarnain stopped short of saying there was nothing MCMC could do to ensure recipients made good use of the netbooks instead of selling them for a quick buck.

There is a difference of the price reported. 

In thestar report, The Honourable Minister himself announced the price of the netbooks as RM1000 each including the software and six months broadband subscription. 

Earlier nst reported the netbooks cost RM830 plus RM80 for installation of MS software an RM2 for antivirus.

Doesn't tally.

And I am still waiting for telephone landline.

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