The Latvian telecoms and IT community seems to be taking two sides on how best to spread broadband to rural and remote areas. The Communications Department of the Ministry of Transport, headed by Raimonds Bergmanis, stands by its idea of using European Union (EU) funds in a public-private partnership to built out alternative infrastructure to Lattelecom's backbone network and ADSL nodes (in most Latvian cities and towns).
The Latvian Internet Association (LIA), however, has written a letter to the European Commission (EC) urging that this approach not be supported. Its managing director Viesturs Pless says funding should go to supporting "last mile" connections to end users. In the letter, he writes that there is no need to distort the market The Latvian Information and Telecommunications Technology Association also leans toward a solution that would favor end-users, but has taken no hard position.
Bergmanis counters by saying the EC had approved of the infrastructure-oriented project (this blogger has seen the letter). He believes that competition would be advanced by building out some measure of alternative infrastructure. In the transit market, Bergmanis notes, foreign operators have a real choice of transiting voice or data through Lattelecom, Latvenergo, or Baltcom Fiber. This will lead to lower tariffs for the end user.
Pless of LIA argues that support for end users will stimulate demand, which in turn will stimulate the operators to upgrade their infrastructure to meet it. In other words, if some degree of subsidy encourages 10 rural households and businesses to request broadband connections from the nearest node, the operator (most likely Lattelecom ?) will find a solution, such as a wireless link.