Since fame and USD 0.17 (so far on google adsense) are all I can hope for from this blog, I want to point out that you are hearing this here first.
Huawei bags the Triatel deal
Triatel has apparently been happy with the trial of Huawei's cdma 450 equipment and is sealing a deal for the Chinese company to build out the rest of the "non-standard" 3G mobile network in Latvia (which will also deliver fixed wireless access and DSL class, 2 Mbps + wireless internet). Triatel's press flack says they will announce very soon. The deal is "multimillion" something – dollars, euro (USD 1.30) or lats (USD 1.85).
While it ain't exactly Portugal, the Netherlands or Algeria (where we have seen Huawei doing things in this hemisphere -- or quadrisphere, since Asia is in the Eastern hemisphere, too), it is yet more evidence that at least the company's same technological bang for a smaller buck approach is working. Not all showcases have to be big. We shall see how they do.
Lattelekom confirms consortium's proposal
Lattelekom's director of market development Gints Kirsteins confirms they are talking to the three partner consortium of Ericsson, Cisco and IBM the blog reported a few days ago. There are also others making their proposals.
That's not the point, though. As Kirsteins notes, the big problem is going to be getting a workeable business model that will attract a substantial migration from existing conventional (Telia MultiCom) and digital (some of Baltcom TV) cable operators. Moreover, Baltcom is already selling a version of the triple-play (internet, TV and voice) package that IBM dog and ponied last week. It has probably more than 1 000 triple-play users (my guess), but there has been no stampede. Baltcom has around 125 000 cable subscribers and Telia MultiCom (soon to rebrand as something else) around 75 000.
With no stampede, Lattelekom is going to be sitting alone at its Cisco boxes, waiting for someone yearning for 100 + channels to come to them (right, always wanted to pay LVL 10 or 15 a month for the Mushroom Channel -watch 'em grow- or whatever). There better be some damn attractive content there. This is the biggest problem - stuff like first run movies is going to cost, unless Lattelekom cuts a deal with its half-mother Telia Sonera, which is selling IP TV for (as I figure it, please someone correct me) about SEK 449 per month for the radically fast ADSL2+ and another minimum of SEK 129 or as much as SEK 339 or something like that for the TV subscription. That brings us close to equivalent USD 100 per month just to be entertained. That will buy one a sh**tload of booze or joints or other entertainment...:) at Latvian prices.
Getting Kolja to switch?
The other problem is - and no ethnic stereotyping is meant in any malicious way here – that basically Lattelekom has to get Kolja the middle-class Riga Russian to buy its offer. Kolja is a little shy of 40, married, one or two teenage kids, and lives in a privatized or newly bought apartment in the Riga suburbs.
During the day, the cable TV serves to entertain the inevitable babushka (granny) who sits at home watching Russian dubbed Mexican soap operas. Kolja comes home in the evening and moves babushka to another TV set, where she watches the 60s Russian oldies movies of her youth on another Russian channel. Meanwhile Kolja turns on the hockey game (Latvian TV or TV 3) and one is as likely to get him away from that as to get the Pope to step back from the altar during mass to take a call on the Papal mobile.
Kolja's kids then show up, and being more or less tri-lingual, they watch some Latvian reality show guaranteed to crank down their otherwise bright IQ by 10 points if they keep it up. Or maybe they watch MTV. Mrs. Kolja, who works for a smart downtown bank, thinks she has to polish her business English, so she catches one of the evening BBC Business News shows. Babushka watches some film about armored division soldiers and a dog for the third time in a week.
Kolja Jr. (15) leaves his 13 year old sister Katja to swoon over a pink-haired character nicknamed Chibriks on the reality show Fabrika Returns from The Grave and boots up a LVL 7.50 a month fast internet connection supplied by their neighbor Sharshkin, who has parcelled out a 4 Mbps Lattelekom DSL line to a couple of other apartments on the fourth floor. Kolja downloads a 200 Mb pirated Doom: Slash Burn & Butcher game, then types his homework. In the bedroom, on her work laptop, Mrs. Kolja Skypes her cousin in St. Petersburg and they talk for a half hour.
This, basically, is the idyllic evening that Lattelekom's IP TV offering will have to totally, awesomely disrupt. Technology alone won't do it.