Yahsat widens the net with satellite broadband services

The Abu Dhabi-based satellite communications group Yahsat is preparing to launch its satellite broadband services across a series of new markets.

The expansion will take place in the Middle East and Asia, aid the chief commercial officer, David Murphy.

“We’ve got some more markets opening up in the next month or so. We hope to make an announcement soon,” said Mr Murphy, speaking on the sidelines of the official launch of the UAE Space Agency’s strategic plans in Abu Dhabi.

Yahsat said last month that its YahClick satellite broadband service was available across 12 markets – seven of which are in sub-Saharan Africa – across a total footprint of 28 countries. The company’s website currently lists 17 countries in which the service is available.

YahClick had 34,000 subscribers in early March, a company release said.

The service had enjoyed further growth across its key Middle Eastern and African markets in the months since then, said Mr Murphy, declining to say what the current subscriber figure is.

“Unfortunately anywhere there’s turbulence in the world demand picks up for our services, so we’ve seen huge demand for our services in Iraq and Yemen recently. Fibre connectivity has been knocked out in a number of areas, and often base stations don’t have diesel for the generators that power them,” he said. “So we’re seeing huge demand in those countries as well as traditional growth markets of Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.”

YahClick’s revenues are growing steadily, he said.

The launch event included the signing of an MoU between Yahsat, Masdar Institute and Orbital ATK for the establishment of the Middle East’s first master’s programme in engineering with a concentration on space systems and technologies.

“Considering the push for the development and greater knowledge of the UAE’s space sector and the push for innovation, we decided the best thing would be to create a space degree,” said Masood Mahmood, Yahsat’s chief executive.

The programme, to be offered by the Masdar Institute, is expected to commence in January 2016, with a class of about 12 students.

While its initial target will be Emirati students, the programme is expected to be opened to non-nationals in due course, said Mr Mahmood.

Yahsat announced a partnership with Orbital Science (which in February merged with ATK) in September for the design of its third satellite Al Yah 3, which will enhance the company’s coverage of Africa and also cover 95 per cent of Brazil.

Mr Mahmood raised the possibility of further satellite launches as its government and commercial business expands, but did not give details as to when such launches might occur.


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