Bitë GSM fails to convince rivals on network sharing

16 Jun 2005

Latvia’s third mobile licensee Bitë GSM is struggling to negotiate an agreement with incumbent cellcos LMT and Tele2 that will allow it to launch services by leasing their networks. According to local daily Verslo Zinios and the Baltic News Service, both operators have spurned Bitë GSM’s advances, claiming that they do not have enough capacity to lease space to the start-up cellco. The newcomer had hoped to launch services over its rivals’ infrastructure in the capital Riga by the end of the year, before building out its own network covering 90% of the country, but this timetable is now in jeopardy. It is now appealing for help from the Latvian regulatory authorities to ‘help the company settle the issue’ with LMT and Tele2.

Lithuanian mobile group Bitë GSM, which is owned by Danish telecoms operator TDC, won the auction for Latvia’s third GSM/UMTS mobile telecoms licence with a bid of LVL6.707 million (EUR9.639 million) in April. Under the terms of the award, the cellco must roll out a network over the next twelve months and guarantee a minimum investment of EUR150 million. The company beat off a rival bid from Latvian businessman Peteris Smidre’s Alina consortium that included the US investment group MVC Capital.