Monday, September 04, 2006

Checking out Sweden, surprising with Latvia

I am in Sweden for a couple of days, looking at the mobile services markets for some stuff I may write for the paper or some freelance customers. I was at this Kista Mobile Media Showcase (more than 60 companies contribute to keep this running) and was pleasantly surprised to hear that they were surprised by how far along Latvia is with mobile penetration, mobile services (like HSDPA) and the IT industry in general. The Mobile Media Showcase is thinking now of going to Latvia and looking at some cluster-to-cluster cooperation possibilities.
At least some good may have come of this. Otherwise, I spend 30 minutes at a Nordea branch (with my little number tag) just to talk to people who couldn't operate the data system so that I could terminate an old Postgiro/Plusgiro account that I no longer need. Well, to have geniuses (in mobile service) you have to have idiots for contrast somewhere.
Back in Latvia Tuesday night in time for Nordic Mobile Media 06 , will cover as much as possible and blog anything of note.


Bleveland said...

I am also in Sweden - back home after a great time in Latvia. No news for Juris since we ended up at the same flight to Stockholm :-)
I am really very impressed by what is happening on the mobile front in Latvia. Let's not forget Triatel in that context using the 450 band for EV-DO. Not knowing for sure I just guess that they kicked ass with that and encouraged both Bite and LMT to jump on the HSPA-train right away. When I told my friends and colleagues, some of them heavily involved in HSPA development, about the mobile status in Latvia they hardly could hide their envy. The poor fellows thought they were working on THE thing to come :-)) It is true, here where HSPA actually was invented (kind of) people talk about “when HSPA will come then......”, but nobody has a f*cking idea WHEN. They are really surprised that this is already happening in Latvia, a country that the swedes mostly associate with poverty, prostitutes, mafia, homophobia and building constructors who Swedish union members yell “go home” at. Well it's obviously a kind of payback time now :-))
Since we anyway are mentioning the Swedes - TeliaSonera offers a very interesting wireless solution that I hope LMT will learn something from ;-)
For as little as just over 7 LVL per month private customers can use the UMTS network for unlimited Internet access during evenings / nights and weekends / holidays. On day time they also do have access, but it will cost about 1 LVL per MB. In other words that DivX-movie would cost you 650 LVL downloading it at day time, so after the first bill you wont do that anymore ;-)
The start up kit costs 18 LVL for the admin and 70 LVL for the PC-card which is the same as LMT uses for HSPA (Huawei E620). Mind that we are talking standard UMTS not HSPA here, so speeds will be limited to 384 kbps download and I guess a lousy 64 kbps for the upload. My point is this: the Telia offer in Sweden would be great to see in Latvia on HSDPA. It uses the over capacity that occurs in down time and it certainly creates a lot of new users that will help to establish the technology.
My personal believe is that if HSPA is going to lift off this fast even on other locations around the world it might very well cause the (premature) death of WiMax. Actually before it even saw the light. That is indeed way to early to say, but a fact is that WiMax yet lacks a standard. An other major problem is that many people-who-should-know-better still associate WiMax with small D-link AP's in the 50 LVL price range. Just put up a couple of hundred of them an you're laughing... Well, that could work fine the same way as Lattelecoms WiFi AP's are working in central Riga, but for real robust coverage you will need power levels that even overrule HSPA base stations and that will cost in terms of site allocation, electricity, and certainly in terms of hardware. Would WiMax than still be able to compete with existing HSPA networks? I doubt it. WiMax for local providers: well, why not? For creating the failing link between a remote village and an ADSL end station: yes, go ahead! Nation wide coverage: right now I would say "I don't thinks so". Time will tell :-))

Bleveland said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bleveland said...

Read the last lines of my earlier comment again. Time tells quickly and I might have been wrong:
TeliaSonera Sweden has applied for a wireless broadband licenses (used technology could be WiMax but not necessarily) in every Swedish county. By the end of 2007 every bush-bush-village could have wireless access. Could have, because both Telia and Tele2 own licenses for this purpose since 2004 and haven't done a single sh*t with them. Well, it kept potential competitors out of business at least.... There now will be 6 licenses for every county divided in 2 fixed and 4 mobile (but all are allowed to support mobility).
Further, USA based Sprint announced the $3-billion investment in WiMax network components in order to build a nationwide wireless broadband network. They aim to reach a hundred million potential users by the year 2008. Equipment will come from Intel, Motorola and Samsung. It is unclear whether they aim at supporting mobile / nomadic users or fixed users only.

These are interesting moves that show that wireless Internet access is just a matter of time. I still believe HSPA does have a great advantage in terms of already existing UMTS networks vs "to-be-build" WiMax-or-any-other-technology-networks. None of the providers mentioned above actually has chosen for HSPA (yet) so that might explain the move they are about to make.
Since this blog is about Telecom in Latvia, the real interesting question for us is: a) what is already happening and b) what is going to happen in Latvia when it comes to wireless broadband Internet access (besides HSPA by Bite and LMT as well as EV-DO by Triatel)?