06 July 2018
| Natalie Bannerman
Yahsat, the Middle Eastern satellite company, will soon enter the mobility and internet of things (IoT) market driving increased growth for the business.
Speaking to The National,
Masood Sharif Mahmood, CEO of Yahsat, said: "Everything is
sensored and metered and [whether consumers] choose telecoms
service providers or satellite is not a big challenge. What
we’re seeing is that, as the industry starts
providing live solutions on the sensors - mobile solutions -
then the adoption of this will be on a higher sort of
As a result of the higher uptake of IoT-serviced industries
like oil and gas, the demand for satellite broadband services
has also increased. According to International Data
Corporation, a US-based global market intelligence firm, the
IoT market in the Middle East and Africa is set to grow 15% in
2018 reaching a total of $6.99 billion, increasing to $12.62
billion by 2021.
Earlier this year the company expanded on its efforts to grow
the mobility side of its business when it acquired a majority
stake in its rival satellite company Thuraya. The
acquisition of Thuraya added two new satellites to
Yahsat’s portfolio taking its fleet to total of
five. In addition, giving Yahsat the opportunity to offer
services on C, Ka, Ku and L-bands to customers in Europe,
Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia.
"When we mix our old fleet and the new fleet our satellite
broadband will cover 60 per cent of the populations of Africa
and 95% of the population of Brazil," added Mahmood.
While also increasing its fleet, YahClick, the name of its
broadband service, has also increased to cover 50,000 devices
according to Mahmood. Though he is quick to add that is a ways
off from being competitive with telecoms service providers.
"It’s the equivalent of sending fibre into the
sky and the satellites are 36,000km away, so really scare
resource capacity," he said.
Though Yahsat focuses on providing coverage to underserved,
remote locations Mahmood believes that it will eventually begin
serving the already serviced parts of the cities as well,
saying: ""The way technology is moving, we think that it will
be able to compete in the served ring as well. That will be the
In addition to these new activities, the company also hopes
to generate revenues from a planned deployed of Wifi services
with regional carriers, having already trialled these services
on-board an Etihad aircraft.
"We reached high speeds of up to 50 Mbps [megabits per
second] versus the existing airline legacy systems that are
around four or five Mbps, so we’re talking about a
10 fold increase. We are continuing our development of this
project with Etihad Airways and we are in early discussions
with few other airline operators here," explained Mahmood.
He also hinted at the company maximising on opportunities in
the developing world to provide basic internet connectivity,
though unlike Facebook that launched Free Basics, the
affordable internet service in less developed countries, Yahsat
would operate differently.
"Free Basics is a model that Facebook rolled out and it has
not been successful for a variety of reasons. If we price it in
the right way and to the right target segment, then we will tie
up with governments and bid for government connectivity
programmes by offering an affordable price. We would [then] be
able to subsidise part of that and offer it to the municipality
so the end user doesn’t get the burden and has a
shared approach. But it has to make commercial sense. There are
enough of those opportunities out there."
Masood Sharif Mahmood,