Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) launched HSDPA with up to 3.6 Mbps of download speed on its 3G network in Riga and the Riga area on August 30, beating Bite Latvija to the starting gate.
Bite had said last spring it would start both 3G and HSDPA services simultaneously in September.
The LMT HDSPA service will initially be free of charge, with the price set once user behavior is observed during a test period. The main beneficiaries are expected to be users of the LMT iBirojs package (a HSDPA card, a data connection via SIM card, and a laptop for a single price) and laptop owners who either get the card or a USB plug-in HSDPA modem (also needs a SIM card). Both pieces of equipment are supplied by China's HuaWei.
The demo of the service at LMT headquarters looked pretty good, with data download peaks at around 2.4 Mbps and full screen video off the internet at 900 kbps.
The launch, even as a "test" leaves Bite in the lurch. If it goes commercial with a flat rate HSDPA service (as it seems to have done in Lithuania) it will tempt LMT to undercut that rate just enough (and counting on its nearly 900 000 subscriber base) to make Bite look like no so great a choice. It could also go into a "free" test period and engage in a staring contest with LMT as to who prices first. And we know who the 400 kilo gorilla is in this staring contest.
On the other hand-- did the gorilla move because it was stung by a bee (bite in Latvian)?