The rumor may be just that. Triatel says it has had some talks on practical cooperation (purchase of handsets, etc) with Nordisk Mobiltelefon, (Swedish language only) the Swedish CDMA 450 operator that is building out at present (Latvia, again, is ahead here, as it was on HSDPA deployment). No merger talks, says Triatel CEO Martins Klevers.
There doesn't seem to be a stampede to submit bids in the Ministry of Transport's tender for rural broadband solutions which closes December 18. When I checked, the following companies had not yet decided whether to apply--Unistars, Latvenergo Telecommunications, Triatel, Latvian Railways, the State Information Network Agency and, of course, Lattelecom. Everybody seemed to be trying to make sense of the 70 page tender regulations and various forms and tables and guarantee papers and certificates and other shit to be filled out (there's European Union money involved, that's why), plus some pretty strict rules to be followed on quality of service, etc. At the end of the day, you can get 35 % government and EU funding for a rural infrastructure project, that is, a fat wire or wireless pipe from which local ISPs will draw internet bitstreams and sell them to the poor peasantry, rural households and small businesses. The total jackpot is almost LVL 4 million, which means the private sector has to come up with another LVL 7 million.
As one executive experienced in wireless broadband in Latvia put it, there seems to be no business case for this. It would be a different story if there was some form of support for the end user, perhaps a program of subsidized PC purchases and a premises-equipment subsidy (for a WiMax or other wireless internet gadget) Perhaps it is too early to say that the tender will be a flop and no one shows up, but the possibility cannot be dismissed.
Someone may be sniffing around to acquire Triatel, the Latvian CDMA 450 telephony and wireless broadband operator. Rumor has it that a Scandinavian company seeking to revive a 450 Mhz network in its home country with CDMA 450 could be involved. I am checking this out for the paper. Or the rumors could have arisen from the Scandinavians talking to Triatel about a roaming agreement, pretty ordinary stuff in the business.