Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Lattelekom - look what mom's doing!

TeliaSonera, Lattelekom's half-mother (I love mistranslating these foreign terms for parent company :) ), is starting IP television services in Sweden as part of a triple-play offering, according to the Swedish business newspaper Dagens industri.
The paper says that this puts TeliaSonera in direct competition with ComHem, the cable TV company it was forced to sell as part of the Telia and Sonera merger a couple of years back. The former Swedish monopoly will be able to reach 70 - 80 % of Swedish households via its copper wire network, since the TV will be pumped down DSL lines where speeds of 8 Mbps are not uncommon (I saw this in action when visiting my "middle son" who lives outside Stockholm and turned 18 over the weekend).
Baltkom TV offers a triple play package in Latvia (the uptake so far is only around 350 users) using its optical cable, but the TV here is delivered as a DVB signal over cable, whereas IP TV, I think, is another technical solution. At the end of the wire, if the user gets good picture (and the IP TV can be routed to an ordinary TV set), it really doesn't matter.
Nils Melngailis, the managing director of Lattelekom, has been hinting at a move into TV services. Now that TeliaSonera is doing it, it may be time to crystallize these visions. It may require an upgrade of the household DSL offering from a miserly 256 kbps (2 Mbps for some domestic network level services, like Apollo Internet's video on demand for various short films). Now that mom's doing it, it is time for the kids (half-kids, TeliaSonera holds 49 % of Lattelekom) to start getting into the act.
More sobering news for Nils -- The Economist writes this week that WiMax, another technology that Lattelekom has been talking about, to put it simply, isn't. According to the weekly magazine, there is "zero" WiMax equipment on the market. Depends on what you call WiMax, though, since some Swedish town recently set up an experimental network and it was reported Argentina was setting up a WiMax network.
Meanwhile, DI also reports a brouhaha in Sweden about whether cdma450 might be a cheaper 3G technology to give coverage to the vast wooded wastelands of our Nordic neighbor than UMTS, which requires loads of towers and base stations. Ericsson's research head Håkan Eriksson thinks even cdma450 would be a waste of money to get wireless broadband to the reindeer, but Jan Freese of Nordisk Mobiltelefon thinks it's a great idea.
Meanwhile, Latvia's cdma450 operator Triatel is apparently chugging along, though there are rumors of some kind of management reshuffles.

A court has suspended implementation of the Public Utilities' Commission's ruling that Lattelekom has to cut its interconnect charges to a maximum of LVL 0.088 per minute
pending a full hearing on the merits, leading to an uproar by smaller operators who had adjusted their domestic rates to reflect the changes now challenged by the incumbent.
Gotta run now to a press conference where the Latvian Telecommunications Association will have its say, followed by Lattelekom an hour later. Jogging on the snowy streets of Riga. Hope to get around to blogging what comes of these events.

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