Brazil awards Yahsat coverage licence before satellite's launch

Abu Dhabi’s Yahsat has passed a key milestone in its international expansion plans, with the award of a satellite broadcasting licence by Brazil’s National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel).

The licence award comes ahead of the launch of Yahsat’s third satellite, Al Yah 3, scheduled for early next year, that will provide satellite coverage for Brazil for the first time.

“Being able to [secure the lic­ence] a year before launch deals with an important risk, which is market access,” said Yahsat’s chief executive, Masood Mahmood. “Having your operations fully authorised and set up on the ground a year before launch is something that is very significant.”

He did not disclose financial details of the licensing agreement, nor its duration.

The new satellite, to be built by Orbital Sciences, will provide coverage for more than 95 per cent of Brazil’s population, providing satellite internet services and other infrastructure support for telcos and ISPs, and will also expand Yahsat’s footprint in Africa by 16 countries.

The company will continue working with its existing network of partners across Af­rica, with no further licensing agreements required, said Mr Mahmood.

Yahsat, a unit of Abu Dhabi government-owned Mubadala, has established an office in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the official launch of services in Brazil next year.

Mr Mahmood said that the company had been in discussion with a number of potential partners in the country, declining to give further details.

“There are 5,000 municipalities across Brazil and our new satellite will have a footprint of 95 per cent of the total area of the country, so the market for us is really huge,” he said.

Mr Mahmood said that the long-term growth prospects for the Brazilian market remained positive, despite a 3.8 per cent contraction in the country’s economy last year.

“Economies that are on a trajectory of long-term growth where the infrastructure is lacking but there are ambitions to grow and reform, this is the ideal scenario for us,” he said.

“Any lack of investment in infrastructure works in our favour because we can help fill that gap.”

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