x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Yahsat set to roll out satellite broadband service in UAE

Consumers and businesses in the UAE will have three choices of broadband provider following the launch of a satellite-internet service geared towards people in remote areas.

Shawkat Ahmed, chief operating officer of Yahsat, says its commercial broadband service will be available in 20 new markets by the end of March. Ravindranath K / The National
Shawkat Ahmed, chief operating officer of Yahsat, says its commercial broadband service will be available in 20 new markets by the end of March. Ravindranath K / The National

Consumers and businesses in the UAE will next month have a new choice of broadband provider following the launch of a satellite-internet service geared towards people in remote areas.

The Abu Dhabi-based satellite communications company Yahsat says it will launch its commercial broadband service Yahclick in 20 new markets, including the UAE, by the end of March.

The service will mark a third choice of broadband provider in the UAE, after the existing operators Etisalat and du.

Yahsat's satellite range has a coverage spanning 28 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Central and South West Asia, although its Yahclick broadband services are available only in five markets - South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shawkat Ahmed, the chief operating officer of Yahsat, saidthe company is working with 30 service partners to roll out its services.

"At least 20 will be launched by March and the rest will be launched by the end of the year," he said. "At the moment we are focusing on the deployment of Yahclick. We have leased out most of the capacity, but we will have to explore growth opportunities as well."

These other opportunities include specific projects in various sectors and entering other markets and countries, he said.

"We are focusing on special projects, especially in education," said Mr Ahmed. "We are participating in a number of tenders in Africa as well as the Middle East. We are very hopeful for them. The total cost of connecting a big school through a traditional satellite system is about US$15 million [Dh55m] to $20m, in our case it is $3m to $4m."

Yahsat's distribution partner for the UAE is SkyStream, which will market the satellite broadband service directly.

Most demand is expected to come from rural and remote areas where fixed-line infrastructure does not exist or is too expensive to deploy. In places where there is good fixed line infrastructure, Yahsat is approaching telecoms providers as backup services when networks fail, usually because of marine cable cuts, which have become more frequent.

thamid@thenational.ae