Thursday, May 11, 2006

Now some musings to prove I am not insane..:)

As for the earlier post, time will tell.
Meanwhile, it seems that Kenneth Karlberg of TeliaSonera was in Riga to meet Minister of Economics Aigars Stokenbergs and to hear from the horse's mouth that there is no chance he will get Lattelekom, but to get Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT), both sides have to agree on a pricing/appraisal mechanism and then, of course, the price. The way things look, both sides will pick a kind of arbiter who will make an appraisal that will be binding to all (binding as a number, whether or not one wants to pay it is another issue). Nonetheless, it now looks like the government is serious about getting some kind of deal done in the next few months, perhaps even before more people representing the other end of the horse get elected to public office in the October parliamentary election.
That means, of course, that Lattelekom will soon be a stand-alone, state-owned fixed network operator. As I have written before, that doesn't look very good in today's telecoms world. However, there are some conditions and developments that may actually make this work. They are:

The Mobile Factor
Clearly Lattelekom will need a mobile component and, apparently, the company is working on several scenarios.
Plan A: Lattelekom, despite a change in owners, radically improves its operational/marketing cooperation with LMT. A precondition is that some people strolling to work down Ropažu Street (the LMT headquarters building is there, unless I am mistaken) about the street name) have a revelation and realize GSM IS DEAD!!(but, like any gut-shot elephant, still has to fall over). How is it dead? Well, think about HSDPA capable handsets on a flat-rate, always on internet connection and a SkypeOut capability built into the phone(that is the pre-paid, call most of the world's ordinary phones for 1.7 eurocents a minute service offered by Skype). LVL 0.012 per minute can't really be beaten, except by the price free, which also comes with the Skype when calling device-to-device. That is a price that in Latvia makes it just as cheap to call Australia (OK, I didn't check the Skype price list, but let's assume) as it is to call your neighbor on a Lattelekom phone. ).
And that is not the only threat to GSM. Think WIMAX. Think of other scenarios and you realize that it is better to have friends (Lattelekom) than to fade away alone.

Plan B: is where we start to get radical. Lattelekom could, under the right circumstances, buy the Bite Group if it were to come up for sale. That should give the combined company a strong mobile presence in Lithuania and a growing one in Latvia (also with a flock of MVNOs using and paying for the Bite network. Interest group oriented virtual operators are one way that mobile services can grow. Think again of a /the 630 00 member social network/ mobile phone service since draugiem is one of the biggest flowers growing in a greenhouse where Lattelekom is the gardener). The purchase could be financed by credit and recovered when Lattelekom does an IPO at some point (with some of the funds going into the company rather than to the state directly).

Plan C: Even crazier, but assuming the "conventional" mobile phones are all going to get hit as phone-like, always on, flat rate mobile internet devices with Skype or SIP capability take over, why not? Under this plan, Lattelekom buys Triatel, the wireless internet and CDMA450 mobile phone operator. I mean, if you are going to cannibalize part of your own DSL customer base, do it with a potential velociraptor of a system such as the EV DO evolutions that will do several tens of megabits per second on the downlink, as Triatel has indicated they will do. Besides eating your own limbs, you will chomp on potential HSDPA users on speed (assuming that the average speed of HSDPA won't be much over 3 Mbps as some analysts forecast). Certainly Triatel will come cheaper than Bite.

The Media Scenario
While still remaining a content aggregator, Lattelekom develops its portal, Apollo, into an interactive news and entertainment platform with much user generated content, including the very new and burgeoning video collection on (a kind of Latvian, perhaps soon Baltic YouTube). Dragging over the draugiem crowd, adding users/readers/viewers/listeners/comtributors/bloggers in all three Baltic States (or Tanzania for that matter..), Lattelekom becomes a medium that is as big as television in the region, and unlike television, available on demand and on any number of plaforms from 50 inch plasma HD screen to handheld to a live electronic ink tablet-like book/newspaper/magazine that is about to be invented at an affordable price.
In 2010, Lattelekom buys the flagship daily Diena and is the main plaform for interacting with a specialized business information environment formerly known as a paper I work for...

Pretending that I have smoked a bit too much of something, I will stop here. No music this time...


Anonymous said...

one funny thing - lattelekom is very far away to own or to have much inpact on :) you should know that.

Anonymous said...

Your forecast is completely wrong, watch this - :)
Ok, back to reality...
Lattelekom need wireless appliances (GSM, LMDS, CDMA, etc) only to get compensation from state for providing universal services. Hybrid fixed/mobile operator is uthopia. The mobile dog will allways beat the fixed, because of profitability. More probable scenario is Lattelekom becoming a virtual mobile operator under LMT. Anyway the future for Lattelekom is not bright - they will loose one third to one half of their customers in next five years.
To kill GSM elephant You need trend on bandwidth-hungry killer-apps like video calls for $0.20 per minute and mobile TV for $20 per month in handsets under $100.
This will make GSM-EDGE networks overloaded in high density areas, remember NMT times.
This will happen in next five years for sure. WiMAX, CDMA or even TD-SCDMA wont kill GSM because mobile operators have already bought UMTS licenses.
Skype and other VoIP applications can't kill GSM for one particular reason - they are very sensitive to data stream quality. Triatel will have to double network bandwidth capacity every six months if they plan to keep up with cable operator internet rates and quality.
Enough speculations, back to ice hockey...

Juris Kaža said...

Anonymous who thinks my forecast is wrong. First,thanks for the update on the Googlezon link. I had seen it before, fascinating. Second, not all of the strategies I outline for Lattelekom are my thoughts. Sometimes stuff from the brains of Lattelekom somehow finds its way into this blog...:)