«War» among mobile communication operators has adapted a new form, it is no longer effective to organize impressive campaigns of offering «0» tariff or even paying people for talking on the phone. It no longer brings any return, LMT Vice President Ingmārs Pukis (Pūķis) told the business news portal BNN.
He also pointed out LMT market share could amount to over 50% and 4G could be introduced in the whole territory of Latvia in 5-6 years time. Similalry, he also introduces to future trends in mobile communications.
What is the current LMT market share?
We will be able to specify it when Census 2011 rounds up, however, according to optimistic estimates with 2.2 million population in Latvia, our market share could hit 46%. Still, we can almost assure there is about 10% less people in Latvia, thus the market share could hit 50%. We must also take into consideration that nowadays more and more people have several phones. Most likely, LMT owns about 46-52%, as the population is dropping while the number of phones is growing.
Have «price wars» among mobile communication operators come to an end?
The fact is Latvia has the lowest mobile communications tariffs in Europe. This is what «the violent war» gave. Prices have practically levelled. What is different is the way each operator presents them, but the average clients costs each operator more or less the same, with various individual solutions. All in all, there are only slight price differences among operators.
«War» among mobile communication operators has adapted a new form, it is no longer effective to organize impressive campaigns of offering «0» tariff or paying people for talking on the phone. It no longer brings any return. What does bring return is maximum focus on individual service. This is what our competitors do as well. From aside it might seem the «war» has subsided, but it will still not be less fierce competition there. The client will be the one to benefit from all that. There is nothing much to fight for in terms of prices, so now it is all about services.
They say, initially, 4G network will be available only in big cities. When could it be in the whole territory of Latvia?
It took 3G some 5-6 years, so it could be the same also for 4G. What we see is the average client doing well with download speed of 4-5 Mbps, as they do not actually have what to download with 100 Mbps as 4G offers. However, we will offer most of clients 4-5 Mbps also in 3G next year. Actually, clients should not rack their brain thinking when there will be 5G and 6G. The exact speed they need is what counts.
What is the proportion of clients – regular users of mobile Internet? What are the forecasts on this?
It is 30-40%, these are the so called short-term consumes. More than 10% of our clients or over 100 000 persons have signed agreements with us on continued use of the Internet either via telephones or computers. This suggests they use the Internet on daily basis. Moreover, the number of such clients grows 9% a month.
What is the popularity of mobile internet in Latvia?
Clients are getting used to the product more and more. Speaking enthusiastically, computers will be left with mere screens as mobile networks will offer all services. Notably, mobile internet speed is climbing all the time, just like once for the fixed network.
What is the current leader in mobile communications in Latvia? Is it LMT?
Of course, we are. From the perspective of the pace of technological development, our 3G network is twice as big as the one of others. Similarly, also from the point of view of mobile data usage, we were the first ones to test 4G network. Our clients are more active also in terms of other services. Shyness aside, we are sure we are the market leaders.
What is division of cooperative clients between LMT and Tele2?
Our estimates show the share has not changed a lot during the past years and LMT owns two thirds of the segment. There is no less tough competition there. We have our hands full at all times.
What trends are currently observed on the mobile industry market?
People talk more and more, the number of minutes spent talking are increasing, suggesting rising social activity. 2009 was less shaky and money turnover rate in the economy indicates economic activity.
Also, the amount of mobile conversations proves how intense the contacts are. Now, this figure is starting to climb even further. The main trend is definitely mobile data and data transfers, mobile Internet, as it is the main driving force, propelling both the technologies and work with customers.
In the next step mobile phones will turn in something more than a device for calls and the Internet. Settlement of payments as well as electronic signatures will accompany it, because the mobile phone has gradually become a small computer.
Have you seen iPhone 5 prototype, when could it appear on the market?
No, I haven’t. I remember, some time ago it was promised in summer, at least it was rumoured. In any case, if anyone had seen it, it would mean Apple wanted them to see it. Speculations on iPhone have circulated since iPhone 4 was launched. So, the marketing focus is very skillfully maintained. Probably, you have to call Steve Jobs and ask him this. (Laughing)