Bite Latvia to aim for one fifth of mobile market

  • 2005-09-14
  • From wire reports
RIGA - Bite Latvija, the newly created subsidiary of the Danish TDC concern, announced it would launch operations this week by offering pre-paid mobile phone cards as well as various business telecommunication services.

The company will not have good network coverage in the beginning, but Jesper Theill Eriksen, executive director, said it was improving by the day.

He said the company planned to begin operations in Latvia at the end of the year and that it hopes to acquire 20 percent of the market.

In an interview with the Latvijas Avize daily, Eriksen said, "To retain competitiveness in the telecommunications sector, it is very important for the communications network to be sufficiently loaded. We hope to attain this aim with many of our clients and to acquire a 20 percent share of the market."

Eriksen said that Bite Latvija, which has the right to operate Latvia's third GSM frequency, was currently setting up a network, establishing base stations in the largest cities and trying to cover the rest of Latvia's territory.

Bite Latvija won the license in an auction earlier this year, offering 6.7 million lats (9.5 million euros). Bite Latvija belongs to the Lithuanian mobile operator Bite Lietuva, which is part of the Danish concern TDC.

Eriksen noted that the company had realistic expectations as far as profitability, where Bite Latvija's competitors are record-breakers.

"If we look at the profitability of both Latvia's mobile operators, then we can say that it is supernatural," he said. Such high profit levels can only be posted in noncompetitive markets, he stressed.

"When Bite Latvija starts to compete in Latvia, this will influence prices and profitability," Eriksen said.

Still, he didn't go so far as to say that the company would offer lower prices than the two existing GSM/UMTS operators 's LMT and Tele2.

LMT is owned by TeliaSonera, a Scandinavian telecommunications concern, the Latvian state and Lattelekom, while Tele2 is Swedish-owned.

The largest operator, LMT, announced this week that it had 824,000 clients as of Sept. 1, or 20 percent more year-on-year.

Currently 35.83 percent of Latvia's residents use LMT services.

Davids Dane, a company spokesman, said that the number of clients grew due to sale campaigns of subsidized phones, tariff discount programs and bonus programs for pre-payment card users.