x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Yahclick satellite service off to fast start in Nigeria

Nigeria is proving to be Yahclick's fastest-growing market since the company launched its satellite broadband service in December.

A YahLive satellite for home use is displayed at the Cabsat exhibition in Dubai. Charles Crowell for The National
A YahLive satellite for home use is displayed at the Cabsat exhibition in Dubai. Charles Crowell for The National

Nigeria is proving to be Yahclick's fastest-growing market since the company launched its satellite broadband service in December.

Yahclick, a unit of Yahsat, a Mubadala-owned company, has started operating the satellite broadband in six countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and South Africa. But demand in Nigeria has outstripped others, doubling on a monthly basis.

"The main delivery of broadband [in Nigeria] happens through mobile broadband, so on 3G [third-generation] networks. When you have a lot of users on these networks, speeds drops dramatically," said Shawkat Ahmed, the chief commercial officer of Yahsat and chairman of Yahclick. "We offer a higher quality of service, with 99.5 per cent of coverage across Nigeria. That makes a big difference."

3G coverage in Nigeria reaches 90 per cent in the country.

Yahclick's satellite beams cover 28 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Central and South West Asia. It is a little behind schedule in its roll-out of services, having planned to launch them in at least 20 markets by the end of this month.

The company hopes to deploy its services in Yemen early next month with TeleYemen. UAE residents will be also able to access Yahclick by April. It will become a third broadband service to rival that of the existing fixed broadband providers Etisalat and du. Yahsat's distribution partner for the UAE is SkyStream, which will market the satellite broadband service directly.

Yahclick will complete its service roll-out in the remaining countries by the end of the year. Yahsat currently has two satellites, the Y1A, launched in April 2011, and Y1B, which was launched a year later.

"We are exploring new satellites, but we have no solid plans at the moment," said Mr Ahmed. "Our emphasis now is on government projects. What we're seeing is already helping those economies where broadband infrastructure is still lacking."

In Afghanistan, Yahclick is working on the country's national ID programme, providing connectivity to the ministry of health's tele-centres and working with 100 schools in Afghanistan to provide broadband services.

In Nigeria, Yahclick is working to connect petrol stations and schools. In South Africa, the company has been receiving heavy demand for its services from farmers and the agriculture industry in areas where broadband connectivity is unstable with low speeds.

 

thamid@thenational.ae