Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More wacko coming?

The main rant...
A certain publication wants me to make a big deal of the fact that Latvia's Ministry of Health, in moving to new premises, installed 125 phone lines from Triatel rather than Lattelekom. 125 lines is around 0.00019 % of all Lattelekom lines and about LVL 45000 in total revenues. according to a guesstimate by the Ministry. The Ministry was previously located in two different premises and used Lattelekom.
As news, it is worth a small item, nothing more. However, under some pressure "to prove that I am not taking Lattelekom's side" (as if there were sides in this matter), I've decided to build another story around a piece of information from an otherwise very respectable source, Janis Lelis of the Latvian Telecommunications Association (LTA).
Lelis told me that the LTA had spoken to several "marketing experts" who expressed the belief that, given the chance, 60 % of Lattelekom's small and medium business customers would leave the company for another operator. This is not what Lattelekom's own customer surveys, conducted by a professional market survey organization, have indicated.
I also have to emphasize that Lelis didn't say he believed or agreed with the assessment by the so-called marketing experts, it was one piece of opinion among many that he hears in his position. So to retell this is not to assail the credibility of the LTA, only of the source it is quoting.
Anyway, staying "barely" clear of a borderline hatchet job (in my own mind) I will file an item claiming "the collapse of Lattelekom is forecast" and pointing to the forecast cited (but not endorsed by the LTA).

For those who don't know American expressions:
hatchet job
n. Slang
A crude or ruthless effort usually ending in destruction: did a hatchet job on the mayor's reputation.
As defined by an internet dictionary.

Anyway, most of the text will be quotes and statistics showing the complete idiocy of a claim that 60 % of Lattelekom's SME customers will flee because, as the unnamed marketing experts claim, the company has a reputation SME's don't want to be associated with. The reason for this is apparently lingering conspiracy theories about the undoubtedly debatable Umbrella Agreement of 1994. Under these theories, Lattelekom is an instrument for foreign monopolization, colonization and failure to run Gigabit Ethernet landlines to every kerosene-lit shack in the Latvian woods.
While the majority wackos of the Latvian parliament or Saeima voted to condemn the settlement agreement with Lattelekom just over a year ago based on this kind of bizzaro thinking, I don't really believe it exists among the ordinary SME customers, even those who have had problems with Lattelekom. After all, the company has been reforged over the past 11 years from what was essentially a Soviet state monopoly to what is a modern corporation making a more than decent profit even under great change-induced stress. So for a best effort, Lattelekom isn't doing so badly. I summed up attitudes toward the (then) monopoly in an article I wrote some years ago for the apparently defunct magazine Northern Enterprise with a headline Surfing with the Great Satan, which summed up how, while providing new services such as DSL, the company was still vilified in some circles.
I'm sorry that this blog has to diverge into what is more of a criticism of how journalism is done in Latvia and the sometimes bizarre compromises that one has to enter into to get certain editors off one's case.
Anyway, my hope is that this story will simply be spiked and never see the (pink) light of day. If it does, those readers of the blog who will hear of it second hand will know why it happened and that it is, if I succeed in writing it to the edge as I intend to, that it will be self-referentially absurd :). Sort of like, Flat Earth Society Convention Comes to Town (with lots of references to the obvious fact that this is all a crock of shit).

Other stuff

While we are on the subject of what does and does not get published, I have an interesting piece based on an interview with the head of the State Information Network Agency (VITA in Latvian), Juris Kanels. Since it has been shitcanned for no apparent reason, I will translate the essentials later on. Basically, it is about how VITA plans to expand into the private sector market and how it needs a clear mandate and definition of mission to avoid problems with being accused of state-subsidized unfair competition.

God, I wish people who are totally HUTA (as in head up the ass) on telecoms matters would at least realize from where they are looking at things....

And while enjoying the freedom of blogging, might as well say fuck once too, as in fuck this shit!
Back to normal again soon..
I'm gonna put on some music now and then go to sleep...

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