Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/09/2014 -- Latvia slipped several places down BMI's Risk/Rewards Ratings table for the Central and Eastern European telecommunications sector. There are numerous reasons for this, but the most significant include saturation of the mobile market, a non-competitive fixed-line voice and broadband market, low consumer spending with regards to services including telecoms and TV and the continued reluctance on the part of the government to distance itself both from the primary legislator and the leading service provider.
There are opportunities to be exploited, in particular growing interest in multi-play services and the recent merger of Baltcom and Izzi Group could yet lead to the long-awaited creation of a dynamic rival to incumbent Lattelecom. However, much depends on the willingness of investors to fully commit to overhauling the resulting entity and on the government to push for reforms that make it easier and more cost-effective for alternative players to access utilities' networks.
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- There were 2.781mn mobile subscriptions at the end of 2012, a figure BMI forecasts will rise to 2.906mn by the end of 2013. This represents y-o-y growth of 4.5% and a penetration rate of 141.7%. - 4G services are being rolled-out, but the relatively high costs are likely to have weighed in rapid adoption, particularly while 3.5G upgrades are still being deployed. - Broadband subscriptions numbered 1.584mn in 2012, a figure BMI forecasts to rise to 1.790mn in 2013, driven largely by fibre and mobile broadband services. The merger of Baltcom and Izzi has the potential to deliver some upside in the medium to long term, but questions remain concerning shareholders' long-term commitment.
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