Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Latvia affirms, yet again, it will someday privatize Lattelecom and LMT

This is beginning to remind me of a black humor headline from way back, when popes were dying frequently -- "Pope dies yet again".
Well, Latvia's Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis and not-too-swift Minister of Economics Artis Kampars (he just offered to buy Russian gas at winter premium prices) said, yes, we want to sell off the state shares in Lattelecom and Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT). Latvian governments have been saying this since the late 1990s and "jack shit" has happened. I think that "jack shit" will happen again in 2011. An earlier Latvian government passed up a chance to sell the state stake in both companies for around 500 million USD (?) back in what the Latvians call the "fat years." Now the government keeps muttering that they don't want to sell to "the Swedes" because that would create a monopoly.
This is horseshit. There is competition on voice telephony with most people in Latvia using mobiles, and fixed domestic voice is no longer tariffed if you buy a package deal -- phone plus internet (optical 100 Mbps or more) and TV. On the cable TV market there is competition and in fast internet as well -- both Baltkom and Izzi offer 100 Mbps on different technologies. The problem is that Latvia cannot politically unfuck itself and get on with getting the government out of telecoms. It also has to realize that there isn't exactly a queue around the block waiting to buy the 51 % stakes in both operators. TeliaSonera is probably it, unless you want to sell to some bizarre, sleazy Russian consortium.
And so the never ending story continues. That is my piece of cynicism to round out the year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

SAP Baltic honchos talk about their deal with Lattelecom Technology

I talked to SAP Baltics managing director Carl Langhorn and a channel manager from Lithuania, whose name I may have confused :( about their "software on demand"  deal with Lattelecom Technology and the roadmap for SAP's small and medium business software as a service Business by Design solution. Since I had to use this video on my Latvian-language blog, the titles and intertitles are both in Latvian and English.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

TeliaSonera honcho talks about Latvian telco privatization

Håkan Dahlström, TeliaSonera's head of Mobility was in Riga briefly and sat down for a short chat with this blogger about the state of play on the issue of privatizing Lattelecom and Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT), now that the elections are over and the old/new government has been voted in by the parliament or Saeima,

Here is what he had to say on video:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some video from IBM's IOD/Business Analytics conference

When I arrived at IBM's Information on Demand/Business Analytics Forum 2010, there were signs saying that there should be no video or audio recording of "sessions". I didn't see anyone else recording at the keynotes, so I didn't take the chance (usually, given the choice between bending or breaking rules not involving the life and limb of others and getting a good story, I would choose the story). Anyway, I did get some video of Akiba Saeedi, an IBM executive who talks about emerging markets and the new area of stream computing, analyzing data streams on the fly.
So here is the video, with some Latvian titles because it is also on my Latvian workplace blog.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An talk with Elza Dunkels, Swedish researcher on youth and the internet

This is a talk I recorded using Skype Video with Elza Dunkels, a Swedish researcher and lecturer on youth and their use of the internet and social media (from a safety standpoint). Elza Dunkels works at the University of Umeå in northern Sweden.  She is of part Latvian descent, her late father was a distinguished mathematician and teacher, Andrejs Dunkels and her younger brother, Adam Dunkels, was recently featured on this blog, talking about how the arrival of more and more machines on the internet will change things and present opportunities.
Please excuse the somewhat poor and jerky image, it suffers from being video over the internet and from my editing, perhaps.:)

Yes, that is me, the tiny image in the corner of the frame. This is how Skype records a video conversation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ansi Vanjoki talks about smartphones at Nokia World 2010

Nokia's outgoing head of mobile solutions (basically the smartphone business) Ansi Vanjoki gave what could be seen as a farewell keynote at Nokia World 2010 in London. Here, as a highlight of the first day, is a video excerpt of his talk.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interview with Adam Dunkels at SICS, Sweden on the "internet of things"

I was in Stockholm in late August and sat down for an interview with Adam Dunkels, a researcher at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS) in Stockholm about "the internet of things" and some other topics. If Latvia comes up a few times, it is because I intended to use the soundtrack of this video for a Q&A style interview (transcribed and translated to Latvian) for the business website  Also, Adam Dunkels' late father, the mathematician and physicist Andrejs Dunkels, was born in Latvia,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MIT Media Lab's Collaborythm project

I have been remiss in posting some stuff I shot in the US in July, Too much work at the day job (would like to change that...). Anyway, here is something I did at the MIT Media Lab about using IT to get doctors and patients working together and finding the best way to treat certain conditions. Titles are in English and Latvian as I ran this on my Latvian-language blog a while ago.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Summertime Blues...

I have been remiss posting here. It is not like nothing has been happening. Just my day job has been a real energy burner, producing news by weight and amount is what matters. Quality?
Anyway, stuff has been happening. Cable TV providers Baltkom and Izzi  requested permission to merge from the Competition Council. Together, they would make a dominant player on the cable-delivered TV market, with more than 230 000 combined subscribers, plus a good many internet users. An interesting hint in the press releases was that the combined entity would use Balkom's Next Generation Network (NGN) optical technology rather than Izzi's DOCSIS cable internet system. This is reasonable, as Baltkom apparently has plans for some kind of interactive IP TV in the works. This would be a direct challenge to Lattelecom, who duly grumbled that the merged unit would be "dominant", without directly asking the Competition Council to nix the deal.
Speaking of which, Lattelecom and Swedish-owned satellite TV and content provider Viasat have gotten into a real urban airshaft catfight (the snarling and howling is something you hear in the big city these hot summer days) because some Viasat sales people called up and said that Lattelecom's digital terrestrial TV would go off the air.
WTF? you ask..It seems some wacko prosecutors working on the old digital TV criminal case have asked that all six digital transmitters and the digital head station currently running all of Lattelecom's channels in Riga should be "arrested" by court order. The court rules August 9, and some legal sources say that this could mean the equipment will be shut down and removed from the Riga TV tower,
The reason for this is the prosecutor's allegations that the transmitters were bought some six or seven years ago by fraudulently obtained funds. The alleged fraudster was the now defunct  Kempmayer Media Latvia (KML), the company implementing the first, scandal-terminated digital TV project that was shitcanned by the government in 2003 (if I am not mistaken). Sometime later, Hannu Pro, a supplier of professional TV equipment and turn-key studios, bought the dead carcass of KML and got the transmitters in the bargain. They are now operated by a subsidiary Hannu Digital under contract to Lattelecom.
Go figure...

Back to the alleycat fight--it escalated straight to both companies calling each other liars and threatening to denounce each other to various authorities. Viasat even said it would complain to its big daddy, the Modern Times Group in Sweden (they have nothing to do this summer?).
Ok, there is some basis for the hissing and snarling. Before Latvia made the digital switchover Viasat ran TV ads suggesting that soon screens across Latvia would go blank and they were the only alternative. Bullshit, but true, analog screens did go blank.
But why all the bridge burning rhetoric? Viasat is clearly playing both sides of the tracks here -- both pushing its satellite TV deals and selling its rather pricey cable TV content packages to whomever will take them. In fact, Viasat has cut a deal with Izzi (it had a dispute with Baltkom, I think, and none of its channels appear there) and several of its program packages can be ordered. As far as urban customers are concerned, it doesn't matter where or how the content arrives.
One would think Lattelecom would be interested in offering some of the Viasat channels as premium offerings both on its digital terrestrial and interactiveTV offering. Having screaming catfights doesn't pave the way for doing business later... or does it.
It is f**king hot for Latvia, 32 C in the shade and I am writing from a couch-swing in the yard of my summer cottage in Carnikava, waiting for the big bad thunderstorms that have been promised  all day.  I have also revived the tradition of listing the music I listened to while writing. Please click on the Amazon stuff, I have yet to make an associate sale :)

The Who Summertime Blues, Ted Nugent, Stranglehold, Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road,  Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Two Trains Running, Rage Against The Machine, Calm Like A Bomb, Down on the Street, Maggie's Farm, Steppenwolf, Magic Carpet Ride, Jimi Hendrix Machine Gun.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Accumulate aiming for the Baltic market?

The Swedish-based secure mobile payments company Accumulate is looking to the Baltic market, says CEO Stefan Hultberg. I met with him at Accumulate's Stockholm office in mid-June, but only got around to editing the video today (July 8). The reason -- I have been traveling in the US, first to Hewlett-Packard's HP Tech Forum 2010 event, then to the Boston area to see my mother, my brother and his family and to visit the MIT Media Lab (video on that will be appearing here as soon as I get around to it). So here, better late than never, is my video interview with Hultberg (there are titles in English and Latvian, since the video is also on my Latvian language blog at

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some highlights of HP's TechForum 2010 in Las Vegas

I was just at Hewlett-Packard's TechForum 2010 in Las Vegas. Some rather interesting stuff for me as a mainly business journalist who writes more about the uses of IT than its technical details. Anyway, I threw together some highlights of the keynotes. Not my best video, shaky. The trip here was exhausting, up at 4:30 in Riga, then flying Riga-Copenhagen-Atlanta-Las Vegas for some 15 hours in the air, if not more.  At least I arrived a day early and could get some sleep, roam around Vegas, etc.

Here is the video:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Mobile Life Center in Kista looks for future services and apps

While visiting Sweden I had an opportunity to talk to two researchers at the Mobile Life Center, a research facility associated with the Royal Institute of Technology and the VIVNOVA innovation support program. I asked researchers Henriette Cramer and Mattias Rost to talk about their work.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

4G test launch in Liepāja, Latvia--A videoblog

Ingmārs Pūķis, a vice-president at Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) talks about the 4G mobile internet test launch in the coastal city of Liepāja, Latvia. Some days later, Bite signed a contract with China's HuaWei to upgrade its network for better 3G coverage (up to 21 Mbps) and make the network 4G-ready, confirming rumors I published on this blog in April.

Here is the video:

Friday, June 04, 2010

Latvian Mobile Telephone to launch 4G demo on June 7

Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) will launch a demonstration of 4G mobile technology on June 7, according to an invitation sent to the press.
According to information available to this blogger, the actual test network will be set up in another Latvian city, but announced at a press event in the capital, Riga.
Your blogger will probably be on site at the actual test location. 
LMT will be the first Latvian mobile operator to launch a 4G test with speeds up to 100 Mbps, although the others -- Tele2 and Bite, have indicated serious interest in deploying the technology.
LMT is 60% directly and indirectly owned by Sweden's TeliaSonera, which launched 4G in Sweden and Norway late last year.
A commercial launch of 4G in Latvia is several years off because of unresolved problems with licences and frequency allocation. 
Lattelecom, the fixed network operator owned 49% by TeliaSonera is also running a low-key project to explore 4G possibilities.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TV3 in Latvia may be cut off from terrestrial broadcasting

TV3, the television channel owned by Sweden's Modern Times Group will be cut off from both analog and digital terrestrial broadcasting on June 1, it was confirmed.
Ieva Līne, public relations manager of the Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LVRTC), which provides terrestrial broadcasting services, said TV3 would be taken off the air on June 1, when Latvian completes a nationwide digital switchover.
At the same time, Lattelecom CEO Juris Gulbis said TV3 hadn't signed any agreement to be broadcast on the digital terrestrial network that is operated jointly by Lattelecom (as content aggregator) and the LVRTC.
Minister of Transport Kaspars Gerhards also said there was no turning back from the digital switchover.
Baiba Zūzena, director-general of  TV 3 Latvia  said she was shocked and surprised by the statements, as TV3 was in talks with both the LVRTC and Lattelecom about signing broadcast agreements.

NOTE: This post was erroneously uploaded to my Free Speech Latvia blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baltics ready for SAP Business by Design, product still on its way

The customers in the Baltic countries are ready to adopt a product such as SAP's Business By Design even if it will be slow in coming to all markets for a number of apparently logical reasons. One is that SAP wants to be sure of the quality of Business By Design (essentially all SAP ERP functionality delivered as a service) and the other reason is that it has to provision the data centers and clouds needed to meet customer demand.
I met SAP Baltics CEO Carl Langhorn at the annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Frankfurt and he made these remarks to camera:

Latvia to block potential wireless broadband to save analog TV?

I'm here at SAPPHIRE NOW in Frankfurt, but I'm seeing news reports that a Latvian parliamentary committee is pushing changes in the Law on Electronic Media that would allow regional and small municipal television stations to defy the European Union (EU) mandated switch to all-digital terrestrial broadcasting and continue broadcasting in analog until the end of 2013.
This would throw a wrench into plans to use frequencies freed up by the digital switchover for wireless broadband (possibly 3G) and risk loosing Latvia some EUR 19 million in EU funds earmarked for wireless broadband.
A Ministry of Transport official said that Latvia, in effect was throwing away its digital dividend. Building out wireless broadband in the countryside (and it is countryside folk who parliamentarians are trying to spare the expense of decoders for the digital switchover) without EU support at a later date will be significantly more expensive.
I don't have all the details, but it looks like a typical provincial f**kwit move that will backfire on those it was supposed to benefit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Highlights of Richard Branson's appearance at SAPPHIRE NOW 2010

Entrepreneur and creator of the Virgin companies Richard Branson appeared for a Q&;A session at SAP's SAPPHIRE NOW 2010 conference. Here are some video highlights. Forgive the camera shake and any other technical glitches. The bi-lingual intertitles (English and Latvian) are so that I can post this video to my Latvian-language work related blog.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Bite Latvia launches protection against mobile scams

Bite Latvija, the Latvian mobile operator that is part of the Bite Group,  has launched a system to protect its customers against inadvertent subscription to high priced services, some of which are scams.
According to Oksana Stankevica, the head of customer service at Bite in Latvia, the new system sends a warning SMS to any customer who has requested a value-added service. Only by clicking in approval and sending an SMS back to Bite can the subscription be approved.
In most cases, Bite's customers and the customers of the other mobile operators, Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) and Tele 2 deliberately choose such extra-cost services as games, music downloads, apps and the like. However,  a Latvian consumer organization's representative said that it had received some 400 complaints over the past year about deceptive marketing of extra-cost services. Stankevica also said that some 12 % of customer calls to Bite concerned added-price services that were marketed deceptively.
One common scam has been the appearance of internet banners and pop-ups urging the viewer to take an IQ test, some other test or even, bizarrely, to learn the date of his or her death. In order to get the test results or to learn one's last day on earth, one has to send an SMS, which automatically triggers a subscription to some mobile service, costing 2 lats ($ 4) a week or more. The new Bite service, essentially software in the "back office" of the operator, which handles third-party connection requests, would block such a subscription until it is approved through Bite's own SMS, which contains information about the cost of the requested service.
The scams and "small print" deceptions even go so far as to attach themselves to US TV series episodes downloaded by this blogger (yes, yes, there are issues..but hell will freeze over before they show The Pacific in Latvia). In order to open the .rar formatted file, one has to get a password, which in turn requires taking a Latvian-language IQ test and getting the results (or maybe not, I didn't try) by sending an SMS to one of the scammer numbers.
Oh yes, the otherwise respectable mobile games, gadgets and gizmos company Aspiro is connected to these deceivers, apparently as their agent (the real company is Israeli?) in Latvia.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bite seeking bids for a major network upgrade -- sources

Mobile operator Bite Latvija is seeking bids from several major telecoms equipment suppliers for an extensive upgrade of its network in Latvia, according to this blogger's sources.  Bite is seeking to replace most of its base stations and replace them with "4G ready" equipment that also consumes less electricity.
According to my source, Bite approached suppliers Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens, HuaWei and ZTE, (the latter two both Chinese companies) at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona in February. Currently, the Bite network in Latvia runs on Ericsson equipment, and the Swedish-based telecoms systems builder has been given a chance at the upgrade.
A Bite spokesperson denied that there had been a formal tender request, noting only that the company has regular discussions with potential suppliers. 
The interesting challenger is HuaWei, which supplied equipment for Norway's Telenor when it launched its LTE (4G) network in December, 2009. The company has been moving aggressively into Europe and set up its Nordic/Baltic regional operation in the Stockholm suburb of Kista, where Ericsson had also moved its global headquarters.
I am heading for Stockholm at the end of next week and will try to arrange an interview/videoblog with HuaWei's regional honcho and post it here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sweden's Mosync offers multisystem/handset apps platform

Sweden's Mosync  offers a multi-operating system and multi-handset phone apps development platform and will launch an apps store sharing revenue with developers in the fall of 2010. The SDK currently is free and open source. In the video below, Mosync CEO Dusyant Patel and co-founder Tomas Uppgård discuss Mosync's future development plans and how their open source business model will eventually generate revenues. I hope this will be part of a continuing series of reports/videoblogs  from innovative companies in Stockholm, as I get over there regularly. The titles in the video are in Latvian and English, as this is also posted to my Latvian-language blog at

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Karlberg leaves TeliaSonera, taking Latvia experience with him

TeliaSonera's head of Mobility, Kenneth Karlberg, left or was eased out of his position at the Swedish telecoms group. It was only two weeks after I interviewed him for this blog. Mobility had shown good results and Kenneth was preparing to go (or sent his people) to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to look for more suppliers of 4G modems after being the first in the world to launch the high speed mobile broadband service last December.
It looks like Karlberg was discreetly fired from TeliaSonera because of some internal problems with others in top management. Margins and EBITDA earnings were up for Mobility, revenues were almost unchanged despite the recession in Sweden and globally. Things looked good on his watch, perhaps too good and others may have felt threatened that one star was outshining the others. The official press released in its English-language version contains the strange phrase "we need to change certain behaviors and act more like one company". Whose behaviors? And was a strong Mobility pulling ahead of the rest of the TeliaSonera group? I have not had time to scan the Swedish business press for their analysis of what all this means in terms of possible office politics. It is not unique to TeliaSonera, there seems to have been a management "Night of The Long Knives" at the top of Tele2.
As far as this blogger is concerned, Kenneth's departure means that he takes the whole portfolio of experience in dealing with Latvia and the Baltic states with him wherever he is going. There, since he will not be trying to work out a deal to privatize Lattelecom and LMT, it will be of little use to anyone. Indeed, the deal is now in nobody's hands as far as TeliaSonera is concerned (or that I have heard). Anyone who wants to take up where Kenneth (who was in charge of business in the Baltics before TeliaSonera's last reorganization) will have to start more or less from scratch. As far as Kenneth's plans to at least work out the details of a possible transaction despite Latvia's election year (as he says in my videoblog), so that only the price and date would have to be finalized -- well, that has fallen off the back burner somewhere behind the stove. A setback for the privatization of Latvia's two biggest telecoms operators, at least if one thinks selling to the Swedes is not such a bad option.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cyberactivists obtain Latvian State Revenue Service data

A purported group of cyberactivists has obtained around 7.4 million records from a database linked to the web-based service for filing income tax returns and other information with Latvia's State Revenue Service (Valsts Ieņēmuma dienests/VID). According to Latvian Television's investigative program DeFacto, at least 1000 state and municipal agencies and companies had their data copied, including the Postal Service
The leak or defect in the Electronic Declaration System (EDS) had been present for several months, allowing the cyberactivists, who call themselves the Fourth Awakening People's Army (Ceturtās Atmodas Tautas Armija/4.ATA). The name refers to times in Latvian history when there were historic changes in Latvia's national consciousness, the first "Atmoda" being the formation of a national awareness in the 1850s, followed by more radical social and political movements in the late 1800s, the founding of the first independent Latvian state in 1918, and the movement to regain independence starting in the late 1980s. More information here.
According to 4.ATA spokesperson Neo, who has electronically chatted with some journalists and recently opened a Twitter account, the group hopes to expose government waste, unjust wage differentials and possible corruption by analyzing data filed by state agencies and public sector. It has already published, using online file storage and sharing sites, a sanitized list of salaries and other remuneration for what is said to be the Riga public transport agency Rīgas Satiksme(RS).
Public transport costs have risen recently and the transport company has announced it wants to limit the number of trips that can be made on a full-price "unlimited" monthly ticket. This has caused public outrage. The figures seem to indicated that top management of RS make four-figure salaries with some, apparently retiring or dismissed board members, getting one-off compensation payments of LVL 25 000 (USD 50 000).
Neo also announced that data from the Riga District Heating company Rīgas Siltums would soon be released.
The leaks from the Revenue Service had caused a public uproar with all parties -- the Revenue Service, the designers of the EDS system, data security auditors and others blaming each other. Apparently several audits and tests of the system, which was designed and implemented by Exigen Services failed to notice the defect that allowed copying of the EDS data base with very simple methods.
Apparently, the site did not need to be "hacked", leading to a bizarre excuse by the Revenue Service that what happened was not a "cybercrime" as defined by existing protocol, therefore it did not officially call Latvia's Computer Security Incidents Response Unit (Datoru drošības incidentu reaģēšanas vienība), but did make an anonymous phone call to the agency, only to be told to call the police.
According to this blogger's sources, VID was warned of generally poor data security practices at the agency, but top management never coped with the issue, saying it was a matter for " the IT department". The agency is also said to keep its back-up data base in the same building as its main servers, though, when asked, it said, in general terms, that its IT resources were " dispersed". According to one source, the main server room of the Revenue Service is near the entrance to its offices and more exposed to intrusion than if it were at the end of a back-hallway.
IT security circles in Latvia hope this will be the cyber-security "killer incident" that will finally raise awareness of the need to make security policy an executive level concern. At the same time, it appears that the already compromised data will be used by 4.ATA to discredit the political and economic elite in Latvia during an election year.
4.ATA say they are based in Britain and Ireland and thereby harder for Latvian authorities to pinpoint and capture, if located.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TeliaSonera honcho Kenneth Karlberg speaks

About a week ago, I was in Stockholm and had a chance to sit down for a video interview with Kenneth Karlberg, the head of TeliaSonera's Mobility unit and still (after all these years) the main man in talks with the Latvian government about privatizing the rest of Lattelecom and mobile operator LMT. Kenneth also talked about 4G and how things would be better for Estonia's Elion, now that it is 100 % owned by the Swedish group.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Latvia officially launches digital terrestrial TV

After broadcasting under test conditions since late December (in Riga since last summer), digital terrestrial TV was launched as a commercial-quality service in Latvia. Free-to-air and pay channels are being packaged by fixed-network telco Lattelecom, while the new digital network has been set up and operated by the Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LVRTC). Latvia's analog broadcast network will be shut down in two steps -- in Riga and environs (a roughly 70 km radius) on April 1, and on June 1 in the rest of the country.
At a press conference, Lattelecom CEO Juris Gulbis also announced that digital terrestrial paid channels would be available as a pre-paid service that could be filled up at Narvesen or Plus Punkts kiosks, on the internet and later, at large supermarket chains (negotiations are still in progress). To watch pre-paid digital broadcast TV, customers can buy a starter kit for LVL 44.50, which includes a decoder and smart card to be activated by a code purchased by buying credit for the length of time and program packet one wants to watch. The model is similar to that for prepaid mobile services, where once the customer has a SIM card (in this case, the decoder smart card), all that is needed is to top-off the available credit.
Gulbis said that he estimates more than 50 000 households are already watching digital terrestrial TV, of which 21 000 have subscribed to paid services. Public television Latvijas televizija's two channels, and commercial broadcasters LNT and TV 5 will be part of the free-to-air offering. Swedish Modern Times Group (MTG) owned TV3 has been a hold-out, saying it intends to continue broadcasting on the analog network at least until the end of this year. The LVRTC has indicated it will simply cut off service to TV3, since it is unreasonable to expect the company to pay the full cost of the entire analog network, which is estimated around LVL 2 million.
Kaspars Ozoliņš, who heads MTG's television operations in the Baltics, says the Lattelecom-LVRTC project's costs for broadcasters are excessive compared to neighboring Estonia and Lithuania, where digitalization is further advanced. There have been hints that the stand-off could end in litigation, though Ozoliņš insists he is defending the interests of low-income viewers and trying to save money for program production, rather than paying broadcasting costs.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bad experience with Telia Mobile

My wife, son and I traveled to the US from Latvia via London, where we spent the night at hotel near Paddington Station. While packing to leave, my wife apparently left behind a Samsung Duo phone with a Swedish Telia SIM card in it (for certain reasons, she often keeps the phone with a Latvian and Swedish Sim card in it). Fortunately, she had moved the Latvian LMT card to another phone.
Upon arrival in Boston on December 28, she discovered that her other phone was missing. First, we thought it had been stolen from her baggage. She tried repeatedly to reach Telia through its single customer service number and was either cut off or put into a seemingly endless phone queue paying international roaming rates on her LMT phone.
Then, a day later, while driving in Massachusetts, she got a call on her Latvian phone (she had tried calling the Swedish number to figure out what had happened) from a person at the hotel where she stayed who said she had found the phone. My wife still wanted to lock down her SIM card, just to be sure. It was only on December 31 that she got through to Telia and had the card shut down.
The scary part about this is that this is exactly the kind of worst-case scenario where you want a very fast way to secure your phone and SIM card -- the phone is lost in one country, the operator is in Sweden, and the phone owner is in yet another country. In this regard, Telia totally failed us, and my wife still doesn't know what happened with her SIM card over the three days before it was locked down. There should be some kind of secure, fast-track process for shutting down a SIM card, preferably on the internet.