|Latvian President Egils Levits, right, delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark the Baltic state's launch of its 5G mobile network on July 19. The launch was among the latest developments in Latvia's digital technology sector. / Embassy of Latvia|
By Yi Whan-woo
High-speed internet and digital technology have been among the selling points of Latvia highlighted by its embassy in Korea after the diplomatic mission opened in 2015.
Three latest developments in the Baltic state's information and communication technology (ICT) industry added to its embassy's campaign for a tech-savvy Latvia.
The three developments are the launch of a 5G mobile network on July 19, Latvian language translation company Tilde wining the "Olympics" of machine translation for three straight years in early August and Latvia's planned hosting of the second 5G Techritory forum from Nov. 27 to 29.
The Baltic state rolled out a superfast 5G wireless technology, after completing the relevant tests in September 2018. This was when Latvia hosted the inaugural 5G Techritory, inviting global tech business leaders and discussing how 5G can better help connect the world while combining traditional manufacturing and industrial practices with digital technology.
Now, two Latvian mobile operators — Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) and TELE2 — offer their subscribers full access to the 5G network. Another of the country's mobile operators — Bite — is testing out 5G-related service for the time being.
In a joint cooperation with LMT, Latvian mobile network equipment manufacturer MikroTik introduced the country's first 5G router.
"I am proud that thanks to LMT's activities and cooperation with global companies such as Nokia and Intel, Latvia has positioned itself in the world's avant-garde of the 5G communication network," Latvian President Egils Levits said during a launch ceremony. "I would like to see Latvia in the first row in many areas."
Latvia joins only a handful of counties including Korea where 5G service is available.
President Levits said this suggests Latvia has "qualified to be in the forefront" in the era of artificial intelligence and big data.
The Latvian Embassy in Korea said Latvia is "open to cooperation with Korea on the implementation and modernization of 5G technologies."
Tilde won in this year's Workshop on Machine Translation (WMT), the world's largest contest on machine translation, held in Florence, Italy, from Aug. 1 to 2.
Tilde outperformed Google, Microsoft and other international software giants in English-Lithuanian translation before capturing its third straight win in this annual workshop.
Tilde competed in Estonian-English translation in 2018 and Latvian-English translation in 2017.
It has been providing customized translation tools for the European Council.
"The continuous success at WMT proves that we have all the necessary skills and resources to develop outstanding artificial intelligence technologies, specifically by focusing on difficult languages and complex linguistic aspects," Tilde Executive Chairman Andrejs Vasiljevs said. "The winning technologies of Tilde can be successfully applied not only to languages of Baltic countries but other less-resourced languages and specific areas of machine translation."
This year's 5G Techritory will be held in Latvian capital of Riga. It is expected to draw more than 1,000 participants.
5G Techritory 2018, also in Riga, was held to discuss ideal business models using 5G and also the Baltic Sea region's contributions for "a healthy 5G ecosystem."
The Baltic Sea region refer to the three Baltic states — Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania — plus Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Poland.
With over 100 million people combined, the region accounts for more than 20 percent of the EU population and leads Europe in ICT development and innovation.
The guests last year were from Europe, the United States and Asia, such as Qualcomm Senior Vice President Enrico Salvatori, Huawei Technologies 5G Product Line President Yang Chaobin and Cisco Senior Vice-President Peter Karlstromer.