Just as SBC Communications and Microsoft have signed a deal in the US enabling the telecoms operator to send TV signals (presumably TV over IP) to the home, Lattelekom is winding up a bidding procedure to complete its high speed MPLS network in Riga. One of the specs for this network is that it will be able to handle TV over IP, so-called internet television. This, then, will be the basis of Lattelekom's television strategy, announced earlier this year after Nils Melngailis took over as managing director.
According to this blogger's sources, Lattelekom has already completed a high speed MPLS network in the rest of Latvia and Riga was left unfinished because of some technical problems, causing a new tender to be announced. Cisco, the global provider of internet routing equipment (and IP telephony) is among the bidders.
Once the Riga network is completed, Lattelekom will have laid the groundwork for eventually switching to an all-IP network and for reducing voice communications to a limitless, nearly free service for those customers having flat-rate broadband connections.
The old circuit switched network, which cost Lattelekom (and its various private sector shareholders) nearly LVL 500 million, is not about to be shut down, In fact, the former monopoly is installing and expanding interface solutions between what are essentially two networks. However, my guess is that once broadband useage moves into six figures (close to the 200 000 target Lattelekom has set), you will see IP phones being offered together with new broadband links. Also look for connection speeds to jump radically higher from the present 128 kbps (for City Internet) and 256 kbps (HomeDSL) to the megabit and multimegabit level (at least as a premium service).
All in all, Lattelekom is gearing up to use the reach and power of its nationwide network to meet challenges such as the triple-play offered by cable TV, internet and fixed network operator Baltcom, as well as the slightly crackpot plans to launch yet another carrier network by merging several state owned networks into The Alliance (see earlier posts).
I may add to this later. It's Latvian Independence Day and snowing in Riga.