Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More on the Lattelecom shopping list

I have already written about Pionit, the German-Latvian specialized IT company that I strongly suspect is at the top of Lattelecom's post-MBO shopping list. I just want to add some other educated guesses, mostly taken from a post on my Latvian-language blog.

Triatel, I think I have mentioned earlier. Their wireless EV DO based broadband service is what could be of interest to Lattelecom if the price is set right. Lattelecom needs some weapons in a coming war against both Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) and Bite, who will surely move aggressively with higher speed HSDPA as a direct competitor to DSL and the only alternative where the optical/copper infrastructure doesn't reach. Bite has already announced it will boost its HSDPA to 7.2 Mbps and by next year, it will be pushing the envelope of the technology at 14.4 Mbps. LMT is a large boat that turns slowly, but expect them to announce a speed boost as well. Triatel is looking to be bought and Lattelecom has been working with them on "digitizing"the rural network using fixed wireless CDMA phones.

IZZI, the cable TV, internet and mobile services (an MVNO running on the Bite network) company, might be of interest for expanding Lattelecom's cable TV base, although they do not directly use IPTV technology to the home (they use it for backbone transmission of their signals, I think). It would be a way of getting over 100 000 TV customers and slowly switching them to Lattelecom's IPTV. IZZI resells Triatel's wireless internet and provides fixed line cable internet where its network is present. IZZI was owned by TeliaSonera (and known as Telia MultiCom) before being sold to private Latvian investors some years ago. Its name is derived from how East Europeans pronounce the word easy :), suggesting that IZZI is easy to use :).

More along the lines of a cooperation partnership, Lattelecom could also look at the wireless broadband network builder Unistars. It has a strictly business customer base and builds some application-specific networks, for retailers and construction projects. That is, these wireless networks are used primarily for running retailing applications (point of sale networks, retail accounting and inventory control applications, etc.) This is the sort of thing Lattelecom is moving into -- setting up IT solutions that run on mission-critical telecom networks. For some customers, the right solution for Lattelecom might just be to call in Unistars as a partner, in others (farmstead internet, small-town business internet access), Triatel may have the solution. Unistars also has some WiMax know-how and is closely watching the mobile WiMax market. Lattelecom CEO Nils Melngailis and Unistars honcho Aleksander Rutman should talk, if they already haven't.

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