Abu Dhabi-based satellite operator Yahsat will be partnering with Axiom Telecom and Sky-Stream to distribute its Yahclick broadband services in the UAE. The company is preparing for the launch of its two satellites scheduled for the first quarter and fourth quarter of 2011.  

“Having two satellites providing services to the countries in the Middle East, Africa and southeast Asia will strengthen the UAE’s position as a telecommunications hub. We will cover 26 countries reaching out to 1 billion underserved broadband customers,” says Yahsat chief executive officer Jassem Mohamed al-Zaabi.

Yahsat will cater to consumers, enterprise and government through five different services. The satellites use Ka multi-spot beam technology, which uses the same frequencies repeatedly to provide more bandwidth, resulting in lower costs.  It is the first time this technology will be used in the Middle East and Africa.

 “Yahsat is not here to compete with the local operators because we do not intend to provide services to end-user clients. Our focus in terms of size is outside the UAE and our services will be complementary to existing ones,” says Al-Zaabi

According to Zeena al-Borgan, senior research analyst at Jordan-based Arab Advisors Group, the demand for satellite in fibre-optic cable-rich areas is not high. “Yahsat’s broadband service is unlikely to succeed in areas with sophisticated fibre-optic infrastructure like the UAE,” she says.

Al-Zaabi is confident demand will be high. “In some areas it makes no economical sense to deploy fibre and so satellite is a better solution. This argument becomes stronger in places like Saudi Arabia, where fibre does not go to destinations that satellite can reach,” says Al-Zaabi.

Yahsat has also partnered with Delta Telecoms and CDN in Iraq to distribute Yahclick. “It has set a target of 3,000 customers a year for the Kurdistan region and even more for the rest of Iraq, this is unrealistic as Iraq’s fibre-optic network will become more sophisticated over the next couple of years,” says a source in the Iraqi telecoms sector.

Yahsat is a Mubadala-owned subsidiary. It won the UAE’s third telecoms licence in March 2010 to provide government and commercial satellite communication needs.