Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lattelecom looking to LTE for its mobile side?

Lattelecom, the Latvian fixed network operator owned 49 % by Sweden's TeliaSonera, may be looking in the medium term to build out a 4G or LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile internet network (with voice capability).
With the future of telecoms privatization in Latvia stalled and highly politicized, there is a good chance that in the next three to five years, Lattelecom could end up sold or owned seperately from its distant sister company, mobile operator LMT. Both companies have done little or no cross-selling or integration of their products.
Without some kind of mobile business, any modern telco operator that doesn't want to be a mere ISP (and even an ISP with national coverage) is hobbled. In the medium term, LTE, which hasn't even been allocated frequencies in Latvia, is a viable option. Latvia's mobile operators -- Bite and Tele2 -- have indicated they will go for LTE and its up to 100 Mbps internet speed at some point. Tele2 in Sweden is launching LTE next year together with Telenor, as is LMT's parent TeliaSonera.
Lattelecom is already cooperating with wireless/mobile internet provider Triatel (the mobile internet offering is still in the works) which runs an EV DO network countrywide and offers an unspectacular download speed of 3.6 Mbps (compared to 3.6 Mbps on the GSM/UMTS operators HSDPA networks, with 14.4 Mbps promised soon by Bite).
The Latvian government has yet to allocate frequencies for LTE, but this will happen in 2010. As far as Lattelecom and LMT goes, it still remains for the Latvian government to (as I wrote to the great amusement of a high executive in the Nordic telecoms industry) to unfuck itself on the issue of privatization (i.e. a sale to TeliaSonera of at least all of LMT). With 2010 an election year, this is unlikely, but in 2011, with yet another round of drastic budget cuts upcoming, Latvia may be ready for anyone tossing coins into its begging bowl.


The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegroove said...

When I asked some telco chiefs how they feel about integration with LMT, they were very cold and uninterested by this. Not gonna happen anytime soon.

J said...

LTE is the mobile technology for the coming, say, 5 years. Note that it is not full 4G (LTE advanced is) and will evolve to LTE A.
It will come to Latvia via the parent companies: Telia Sonera is launching it in Sweden and Finland (LMT would get access to the technology in the next round?) while Tele2 (together with Telenor) has launched it in Norway. Bite's 14 Mb/s sounds more like WiMax, technology, competing (and losing) with LTE.
The great thing about LTE, besides the speed, is that it eliminates voice transmission layer (voice transmission of course remains, but as a packet switching VoIP), simplifying and lowering the cost of the network. Integration with other networks and "Internet" becomes much easier as well. As such, it is as close to internet service providing as to traditional telecom services and would be a great and inexpensive way for Lattelecom to enter the wireless market. Go Lattelekom!