Cooperation is the name of the space game

The satellite industry is almost like a village, says Yahsat’s chief executive Masood Mahmood.

“A small industry [but] with big coverage, so cooperation is essential. It is a limited real estate that you are fighting for so if you don’t cooperate it will not be beneficial to anyone,” he says.

“Today we have a joint venture with SES, the third-largest operator in the world, on our TV service. Dubai TV and Abu Dhabi TV and other bouquet channels are beamed on our satellite.


“It is one of the few industries I have seen that really is a sort of win-win mentality because it is so small you can’t afford to get in an overly competitive situation.”

This is a key point as the company expands into new markets after its satellite Al Yah 3 is launched next year.

Once the new satellite is operational, Yahsat will offer satellite broadband services for the first time to Brazilian consumers and to a greater number of those in Africa, as well as enterprise markets, internet service providers and telecoms operators in both regions.

Yahsat must work with regulators and operators in each market as part of this growth strategy.

“From a universal access point of view usually the discussions are very positive with these regulators and governments,” says Mr Mahmood.

“In Brazil we were discussing with one of the government agencies who were extremely excited about what we were trying to do in terms of covering 95 per cent of the population. They were almost selling the idea from their side on how business friendly and proactive the regulator over there is in terms of making sure that people who come and help in meeting the universal access obligations that they have the right facilitation on the ground.”

Ultimately, the connectivity that satellite can provide helps a country to develop and entry is “much easier compared to other telecoms services”.

“It is a different conversation only because satellite is complimentary” for telecoms operators, says Mr Mahmood. “They have the core in the major populated areas … once they start going outside that the technology becomes extremely expensive and uneconomical to support the lower density areas of population.”

“This is where satellite is perfectly suited to come in and fill that gap.”

malrawi@thenational.ae

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