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Latvia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

1. Executive Summary
2. Key Statistics
3. Telecommunications Market
3.1 Overview of Latvia’s telecom market
4. Regulatory Environment
4.1 Background
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.2.1 Public Utilities Commission (SPRK)
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Latvia
4.3.1 Privatisation
4.3.2 Interconnect
4.3.3 Access
4.3.4 Carrier selection (CS) and Carrier PreSelection (CPS)
4.3.5 Number portability
5. Major Network Operators in Latvia
5.1 Overview of operators
5.2 Lattelecom
5.3 Norby Telecom
6. Telecommunications Infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.2 Telecoms & IT
7. Internet Market
7.1 Overview
7.1.1 Internet statistics
7.2 Latvia’s emerging Internet society
7.2.1 E-government
8. Broadband Market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Broadband statistics
8.2 Cable modems
8.3 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
8.3.1 ADSL2+
8.4 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) networks
8.5 Wireless broadband
8.5.1 WiMAX
8.5.2 WiFi
9. Convergence
9.1 Overview
9.2 Triple play models
9.3 Digital TV
9.3.1 Broadband TV (IPTV)
9.3.2 Cable TV (CATV)
9.3.3 Satellite-based digital pay TV
9.3.4 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)
10. Mobile Communications
10.1 Overview of Latvia’s mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.2 Regulatory issues
10.2.1 CDMA licence awarded
10.2.2 Third Generation (3G) licences
10.2.3 EU roaming tariffs
10.2.4 Mobile Termination Rates (MTR)
10.3 Mobile technologies
10.3.1 Digital
10.3.2 3G mobile
10.4 Major mobile operators
10.4.1 Latvia Mobilais Telefons (LMT)
10.4.2 Tele2
10.4.3 Telekom Baltija/Triatel
10.4.4 Bite
10.4.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
10.5 Mobile voice services
10.5.1 Prepaid cards
10.6 Mobile data services
10.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
10.6.2 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
10.6.3 Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
10.6.4 Broadband wireless data service (1x EV-DO)
10.6.5 Mobile TV
10.6.6 BlackBerry
10.6.7 Mobile broadband
10.7 Mobile content and applications
11. Forecasts
11.1 Forecasts - broadband subscribers to 2018
11.1.1 Scenario 1 - higher broadband subscriber growth
11.1.2 Scenario 2 - lower broadband subscriber growth
11.2 Forecasts - 3G subscribers to 2018
12. Related reports
List of Tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Country statistics Latvia - 2008
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2008
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2008
Table 4 - Broadband statistics - 2008
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - September 2008
Table 6 - National telecommunications authority
Table 7 - Interconnection rates - 2006 - 2008
Table 8 - Local loop unbundling and share access costs - 2006 - 2008
Table 9 - Access agreements with Lattelecom by type - 2006 - 2008
Table 10 - Lattelecom Group financial data - 2003 - 2008
Table 11 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2008
Table 12 - Workplace PC usage by employer size and industry type - 2004 - 2007
Table 13 - Workplace network usage by network type - 2004 - 2007
Table 14 - Internet users, subscribers and penetration rates - 1999 - 2008
Table 15 - Proportion of businesses purchasing online - 2005 - 2007
Table 16 - Online trading as percentage of total turnover - 2005 - 2007
Table 17 - Items purchased online by individuals - 2005 - 2007
Table 18 - Online activities by individuals - 2005 - 2007
Table 19 - Take up of e-government services by businesses - 2004 - 2007
Table 20 - Take up of e-government services by individuals - 2004 - 2007
Table 21 - Broadband subscribers and market share by access type - January 2009
Table 22 - Broadband subscribers and penetration rate - 2001 - 2009
Table 23 - Lattelecom broadband subscribers - 2002 - 2007
Table 24 - Fixed broadband lines by speed - January 2009
Table 25 - Lattelecom ADSL subscribers - 2001 - 2008
Table 26 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - September 2008
Table 27 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2008
Table 28 - LMT subscribers & ARPU - 2006 - 2008
Table 29 - Tele2 financial data - 2007 - 2008
Table 30 - LMT prepaid subscribers - 2002 - 2008
Table 31 - Forecast broadband subscribers - higher market growth scenario - 2009 - 2013; 2018
Table 32 - Forecast broadband subscribers - lower market growth scenario - 2009 - 2013; 2018
Table 33 - Forecast 3G subscriber penetration rates - 2008 - 2012; 2018
Exhibit 1 - EU regulatory framework for communications
Exhibit 2 - Overview of access, the local loop and unbundling
Exhibit 3 - Overview of Carrier Selection and Carrier PreSelection
Exhibit 4 - Number portability defined
Exhibit 5 - The Economist Intelligence Unit annual e-readiness criteria
Exhibit 6 - BlackBerry services defined

The Latvia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts report includes all BuddeComm research data and analysis on this country. Covering trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, internet, broadband, infrastructure and regulation.


Like its Baltic neighbours Latvia enjoyed economic growth based almost entirely on domestic demand, based on large real wage increases driven by declining unemployment and emigration, European Union sourced development funds and extremely rapid credit growth, resulting in high inflation and a property market bubble characterised by growth rates among the highest in Europe.  

In stark contrast an economic contraction is expected in 2009 due to the current global financial turmoil. Latvia’s telecom market was the recipient of much foreign capital, with high rates of foreign ownership among major market players. Unlike other industries the overall telecom industry is expected to weather the economic turmoil relatively well, due to the essential nature of most telecom services.

  Not all sectors are expected to fare the same, given ongoing trends such as fixed mobile substitution and the increasing popularity of fixed and mobile broadband services. Broadband services are widely available and account for almost all Internet subscriptions. DSL is the dominant form of broadband access, with competition predominantly infrastructure based such as cable, Fibre-to-the-Home, and wireless broadband is also available.

  Latvia’s wholesale broadband has seen less success, with the number of lines retailed via bitstream, local loop unbundling and simple resale woefully inadequate, due to the regulator’s previous inability to facilitate a viable wholesale market.  

A healthy digital TV market is evident, with content accessible via well entrenched cable TV operators, satellite and broadband TV (IPTV). Bundled offerings such as triple play or quad play have been launched by the cable operators and the telecoms incumbent.

  Fierce competition from a number of GSM, CDMA and WCDMA networks by four mobile network operators have pushed SIM card penetration levels beyond 100%. To grow revenue, service providers are focusing on increasing usage and hence revenue per subscriber, mainly in the form of minutes of use and marketing of mobile broadband services. The latter holds much promise given current low mobile broadband penetration levels, widespread familiarity and usage of fixed broadband and the falling cost of multimedia capable mobile handsets and modems.

  Key highlights:

  •          Broadband accounts for almost 100% of all fixed Internet subscriptions. Potential opportunities in this market have led Latvia’s incumbent operator to announce plans to roll out FTTx networks within Riga under its ‘Network of the Future’ project, offering speeds of up to 500Mb/s by 2010. FTTx rollouts are planed for other major cities. Currently the incumbent is the dominant ISP with its DSL offering accounting for almost half of all fixed broadband subscriptions.
  •         Business usage of e-government services has exceeded 40% and is increasing annually, with access via a central portal. An increased focus on online services such as e-government is evident, as service providers hope to capture benefits such as improved efficiency, convenience, and accessibility. Similar initiatives extend to the health and education sectors, with the scope of such initiatives expected to broaden due to EU commitments to online services.
  •          Stalled efforts to introduce digital terrestrial TV are back on track following implementation of regulations for introducing DTTV services based on the DVB-T and DVB-H standards. Latvia’s incumbent operator won a tender in January 2009 to operate Latvia’s DTTV broadcasting infrastructure, building on its previous launch of IPTV services and placing the incumbent in a prime position to benefit from the nascent digital TV market.
  •        Mobile broadband is the next growth opportunity for mobile network operators, with mobile broadband penetration hovering at only 8%. Healthy infrastructure-based competition is evident with competing offerings from WCDMA and CDMA operators. Further competition is likely given that state-owned Latvian State Radio and Television Centre (LVRTC) deployed a trial IEEE 802.16e standard mobile WiMAX network in Riga during 2008.
  •        The future growth path of mobile broadband take up is expected to emulate that of the mobile voice market over the coming years as the cost of access and capable handsets decrease and end user awareness and ease of use increases.

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