So hear is the deal that Minister of Transport Ainars Slesers came up with after a round of talks with Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT), Tele2, Lattelekom, and the kid he was leading into the schoolyard by the hand – Bite Latvija. (Yes, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission was there as well). Latvia will start an immediate and parallel switch to eight-digit (mobile) phone numbers for those who need them, but still keep the seven digit system for those who still have some of this exhausted commodity. It will be up to the operator to choose. Some 10 million new numbers will be created, and Slesers said he will put the scheme on the fast track to be approved by the government. Translating in the silliest possible way from the Latvian, he will push it through as a "Cabinet of Ministers' Thing" (Ministru kabineta lieta) and bypass a couple of layers of bureaucracy.
At the same time, Bite and Lattelekom appear close to a deal to have a kind of virtual interconnect with the LMT and Tele2, who have not signed deals with Bite Latvija yet and insist that they are not stalling, but will not, of course, sign anything two seconds earlier than their procedures, schedules and previous practices allow. Indeed, both operators issues press releases to that effect, sounding miffed that anyone was reminding them of this issue and upset (in the case of LMT, at least) that they were not invited to Slesers' press conference, while the new kid in town, Jesper Thiell Eriksen, the honcho-to-be of the Bite Group (while he qualifies for honcho-hood in Lithuania, in Latvia the big guys, like Uncle Joe, can ask how many divisions does the Pope have?), was sitting by the minister's side.
The deal envisioned with Lattelekom is that until interconnects are signed with the Big Two (Bite and Triatel are already set to give each other great phone* -- they have an agreement in the bag) Bite Latvija calls will be routed through Lattelekom, which means the part-mother of LMT (23 %) gets more money from its already signed interconnect with Bite and the Big Two get their money (not real money, some kind of clearing of minutes used) from Lattelekom.
All in all, one could say that Slesers – the former kickboxer – kicked (sharply but politely) a few asses and it seems to have worked. As a result, Bite now says it will start up on its secret start up day according to its original plans, which were to launch a lot of consumer services, starting with pre-paid, then move on to pre-paid via internet, post-paid subscription, and, finally, flat rate business packages when the network coverage is sufficiently built out.
*giving phone is Anglo-American slang for phone sex, which is not really sex, but the ability to give each other pleasure over the phone line (which, actually, we do in many phone calls in a non-erotic way, calling friends etc., except calling the vacationing neighbor to say you think his cat has been dead for a few days, i.e. not moving for days, flies arriving...).
It is early Saturday morning and the writing is accordingly perverse :)