On Nov. 16, Lietuvos Telekomas, the information technology company Alna, and the privately run International School of Management (ISM) announced that they were joining forces to form "E-voliucija" ("E-volution"), essentially a lobby group and seminar operator that aims to get businesses to take e-commerce seriously by investing money and training in the required technologies.
While seminars and discussions about the future of e-commerce have taken place in Lithuania previously, what sets E-voliucija apart is that it is entirely a private sector initiative with no funding from the Lithuanian government or the European Union's PHARE program.
"There has simply been too much talk and discussion about this issue so far," said Telekomas' Tapio Paarma. He went on to list many of the investments the company has made in the telecommunications infrastructure in Lithuania, concluding that it was now time that businesses take action and make the investment in e-commerce. "Technology is not the problem anymore," he said.
Others agreed with that assessment.
"We do not need further discussion about the need for creating an information society in Lithuania," said Alna's director, Tomas Milaknis. "We need to face the practical issues as far as what business needs to do today, tomorrow and beyond to make e-commerce a reality." E-voliucija's first conference, set for Nov. 23, will bring together approximately 200 business and IT leaders for seminars led by officials from Siemens, Ericsson and other technology companies on how to get the e-commerce ball rolling. According to ISM head Virginijus Kundrotas, the school's role will be to provide the best possibly trained managers to consult for Lithuanian businesses on e-commerce.
Despite the lofty rhetoric, Lietuvos Telekomas has been under relentless attack from media outlets in Lithuania, especially the business daily Verslo Zinios, for the continuing bottlenecks experienced by Internet users in the country. Telekomas has also been criticized for placing filters on its analog lines in order to slow connection speeds in an attempt to get users to upgrade to more expensive data lines. Telekomas' Paarma also acknowledged that international connectivity has been a problem.
"There have been some problems concerning speed and capacity to other countries. We are working on increasing our speed ten times so that all worldwide portals are available in Lithuania," he said.