For those who don't know, a skunkworks is a secretive laboratory where innovative things are dreamt up. The original SkunkWorks was started at an American airplane manufacturer during World War II.
The Baltcom skunkworks, in anticipation of the company's return to mobile telephony, is working on a combined GSM/VOIP over WiFi service that may appear in the course of 2007. Initially Baltcom, which sold the Baltcom GSM network (now Tele2) for USD 277 million in 2000, is looking to start a virtual mobile operator, most likely on the Bite network. However, the innovative angle will be that the new virtual Baltcom will offer hybrid GSM/wireless VOIP phones. The company is testing prototypes and working together with Bite on the problem of handing off calls between WiFi and GSM. The initial virtual mobile service will make Baltcom a quadruple play operator (fixed/mobile voice, digital TV and internet).
If the hybrid service is launched in late 2007, as some are guessing it might be, it could pre-empt efforts to start mobile WiMax in 2008. Lattelecom, which needs a mobile business now that it is likely to be separated (though they were never close)from Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT), is considering mobile WiMax as one way to enter the mobile market if the first choice of buying Bite proves to be too expensive.