Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TV3 in Latvia may be cut off from terrestrial broadcasting

TV3, the television channel owned by Sweden's Modern Times Group will be cut off from both analog and digital terrestrial broadcasting on June 1, it was confirmed.
Ieva Līne, public relations manager of the Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LVRTC), which provides terrestrial broadcasting services, said TV3 would be taken off the air on June 1, when Latvian completes a nationwide digital switchover.
At the same time, Lattelecom CEO Juris Gulbis said TV3 hadn't signed any agreement to be broadcast on the digital terrestrial network that is operated jointly by Lattelecom (as content aggregator) and the LVRTC.
Minister of Transport Kaspars Gerhards also said there was no turning back from the digital switchover.
Baiba Zūzena, director-general of  TV 3 Latvia  said she was shocked and surprised by the statements, as TV3 was in talks with both the LVRTC and Lattelecom about signing broadcast agreements.

NOTE: This post was erroneously uploaded to my Free Speech Latvia blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baltics ready for SAP Business by Design, product still on its way

The customers in the Baltic countries are ready to adopt a product such as SAP's Business By Design even if it will be slow in coming to all markets for a number of apparently logical reasons. One is that SAP wants to be sure of the quality of Business By Design (essentially all SAP ERP functionality delivered as a service) and the other reason is that it has to provision the data centers and clouds needed to meet customer demand.
I met SAP Baltics CEO Carl Langhorn at the annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Frankfurt and he made these remarks to camera:

Latvia to block potential wireless broadband to save analog TV?

I'm here at SAPPHIRE NOW in Frankfurt, but I'm seeing news reports that a Latvian parliamentary committee is pushing changes in the Law on Electronic Media that would allow regional and small municipal television stations to defy the European Union (EU) mandated switch to all-digital terrestrial broadcasting and continue broadcasting in analog until the end of 2013.
This would throw a wrench into plans to use frequencies freed up by the digital switchover for wireless broadband (possibly 3G) and risk loosing Latvia some EUR 19 million in EU funds earmarked for wireless broadband.
A Ministry of Transport official said that Latvia, in effect was throwing away its digital dividend. Building out wireless broadband in the countryside (and it is countryside folk who parliamentarians are trying to spare the expense of decoders for the digital switchover) without EU support at a later date will be significantly more expensive.
I don't have all the details, but it looks like a typical provincial f**kwit move that will backfire on those it was supposed to benefit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Highlights of Richard Branson's appearance at SAPPHIRE NOW 2010

Entrepreneur and creator of the Virgin companies Richard Branson appeared for a Q&;A session at SAP's SAPPHIRE NOW 2010 conference. Here are some video highlights. Forgive the camera shake and any other technical glitches. The bi-lingual intertitles (English and Latvian) are so that I can post this video to my Latvian-language work related blog.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Bite Latvia launches protection against mobile scams

Bite Latvija, the Latvian mobile operator that is part of the Bite Group,  has launched a system to protect its customers against inadvertent subscription to high priced services, some of which are scams.
According to Oksana Stankevica, the head of customer service at Bite in Latvia, the new system sends a warning SMS to any customer who has requested a value-added service. Only by clicking in approval and sending an SMS back to Bite can the subscription be approved.
In most cases, Bite's customers and the customers of the other mobile operators, Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) and Tele 2 deliberately choose such extra-cost services as games, music downloads, apps and the like. However,  a Latvian consumer organization's representative said that it had received some 400 complaints over the past year about deceptive marketing of extra-cost services. Stankevica also said that some 12 % of customer calls to Bite concerned added-price services that were marketed deceptively.
One common scam has been the appearance of internet banners and pop-ups urging the viewer to take an IQ test, some other test or even, bizarrely, to learn the date of his or her death. In order to get the test results or to learn one's last day on earth, one has to send an SMS, which automatically triggers a subscription to some mobile service, costing 2 lats ($ 4) a week or more. The new Bite service, essentially software in the "back office" of the operator, which handles third-party connection requests, would block such a subscription until it is approved through Bite's own SMS, which contains information about the cost of the requested service.
The scams and "small print" deceptions even go so far as to attach themselves to US TV series episodes downloaded by this blogger (yes, yes, there are issues..but hell will freeze over before they show The Pacific in Latvia). In order to open the .rar formatted file, one has to get a password, which in turn requires taking a Latvian-language IQ test and getting the results (or maybe not, I didn't try) by sending an SMS to one of the scammer numbers.
Oh yes, the otherwise respectable mobile games, gadgets and gizmos company Aspiro is connected to these deceivers, apparently as their agent (the real company is Israeli?) in Latvia.