x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Satellite will bring internet to rural Africa

Angola, Sudan and Tanzania among the many countries set to benefit

ABU DHABI // Millions of people in Africa, Asia and the Middle East stand to benefit from internet broadband and telephone services that will be beamed down from Yahsat's telecommunications satellites.

The broadband services will elimate the need for costly system infrastructure in rural areas, while the pricing will remain comparable to terrestrial services, said Jassem al Zaabi, the Yahsat chief executive. Angola, Cyprus, Sudan, Tanzania, Kuwait, Pakistan and Syria are among the countries that stand to benefit.

"We will be dedicated to working with local companies and local service partners to provide customer-focused, market-oriented services as one of the leading satellite providers in the region," he said before the launch.

The satellites will enable some television broadcasters to provide high-definition TV to UAE residents. Because Yahsat will offer services to parts of southern Europe as well, it could eventually allow broadcasters to uplink content from media hubs there and downlink them to other countries in the coverage area, including the GCC.

The first satellite, the Y1A, was launched yesterday from French Guiana, and more services will be available once the second satellite, the Y1B, goes into orbit in the first quarter of next year.

Yahsat currently has commercial deals in place with 25 licensed operators across the Middle East and Africa, including markets where regulations have recently opened up and locations where populations are under-served, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Service providers do not need special equipment to provide the service and users can access the internet using a small satellite dish and a satellite modem connected to their computers.

Yahsat's services can also target audiences in specific geographic areas rather than one broad region.

While the UAE Armed Forces is the only military contract signed with Yahsat so far, the satellite could help provide support for maritime networks, border control in remote areas and a backbone network for disaster recovery.

Yahsat, or Al Yah Satellite Communications Co, is owned by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company controlled by the Abu Dhabi Government.

econroy@thenational.ae