Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Slesers honey for the "Bee" (Bite)

Minister of Transport Ainars Slesers, after meeting with top management of Bite Latvija and its parent company, Denmark's TDC Group, says he will urge Lattelekom and appropriate government agencies to free up 200 000 additional numbers by the end of the year.
This is an apparent response to Bite Latvija's main complaint, that it cannot start with just 100 000 allocated numbers. Presently, there are no extra numbers left.
This would be fine and good, except Lattelekom, which has presented a medium-term scheme to free up 2.5 million numbers by reducing the number of local area codes in Latvia (many have been allocated 100 000 numbers for only a few thousand actual rural users), says there is no way it can free the additional numbers by year end. The process itself takes at least six months and cannot be done without a government-approved scheme. After all, the numbers are given in trust to operators and aren't really their property to dispose of as will. In other words, it would be easier for Lattelekom to give away used desks for Bite's Latvian offices than to supply it with the numbers it needs.
Another semi-wacko looking document has appeared on the distribution of numbering resources. It makes the Electronic Communications Directorate (ESD) the custodian of the numbers, handing them out as instructed by the Public Utilities Regulary Commission. So far. the rules are just a set of operating instructions for warehousemen and the shipping room. The shipping room just ships what it is told to and makes no decisions as to where, how much and why.
However, there is an interesting reference to reserving number resources in case of tenders or auctions. This sounds at first glance like the regulator will be asked to auction off numbers in the future, a development that will not please operators. However, the man in charge of the Electronic Communications unit at the regulator (while Andris Virtmanis is vacationing) says there are no plans to auction number resources and the rules are aimed at some future tender or auction of yet another, say, mobile operator licence (number four or five, depending how you count :)).
So may it be, but in view of the hostile footsie*being played between the Ministry of Transport and the regulator, it is not unthinkable that someone has written the draft rules with some kind of auction of numbers in 10 000 or 100 000 lots in mind, and let the regulator do it. This will please operators to no end. They are already appalled by plans to charge an annual fee for use of numbering resources and for frequences, according to formulae that only a doctor of mathematics on mushrooms can understand.
*for the native Latvian reader, kicking or rubbing someone's foot under the table, often, though not always a sign of affection. Not in this case.

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