Latvia to get new fixed-line, mobile phone operators

  • 2004-02-12
  • From wire reports
RIGA - The Latvian government stated last week it wanted to establish a second fixed-line telephone network over the next few years and that the auction for the country's third mobile operator would be held by the end of the year.

Transport Minister Roberts Zile, speaking to reporters on Feb. 4, one day before the Cabinet tendered its resignation, said that one possibility for the new network would be to merge the infrastructure of the state-owned railway company Latvijas Dzelzcels, the national radio and TV center, the state-owned electricity utility Latvenergo and the state information network VITA.
Zile said that resources from EU funds earmarked for telecommunication-industry development as well as money of Latvia's taxpayers could be attracted to set up the alternative network.
Transport Ministry communications department head Raimonds Bergmanis said a study into the legal, technical, economic and other aspects of such a merger was currently being carried out. The study should be completed by the end of the year, he added.
At present the only fixed communications network is owned by Lattelekom, which had a monopoly in the industry until January 2003. Several new operators, who lease lines from Lattelekom, have appeared on the market, though their client base remains small.
Regarding the mobile industry, Zile said an auction for Latvia's third operator would take place by the end of 2004 and that the appropriate concept has been prepared.
The establishment of the country's second fixed-line operator and third mobile operator are part of the electronic communications strategy in Latvia for 2004 - 2008, Zile said.