Etisalat strikes global satellite deal

Satellite operator O3b has agreed a five-year deal with UAE-based telco Etisalat to provide mobile backhaul, trunking and next-generation services to its subsidiary operations in developing markets around the world.

Through its extended group, Etisalat serves over 110 million customers in 18 countries. All companies in that group will now be able to use O3b’s satellite facilities to supplement their existing networks and services. “Our framework agreement with O3b Networks will allow us to provide our subsidiaries across the Middle East, Africa and south Asia with state-of-the-art satellite broadband services,” said Saeed Al Bahhar, chief carrier services of-ficer with Etisalat. “ is will provide each subsidiary with a competitive advantage in its own market, allowing it to reduce costs and increase network efficiency.”

“Continuous availability of right-priced, bulk capacity will enable carriers like Etisalat to meet their long-term capacity needs,” said John Finney, chief commercial officer with O3b Networks.

Meanwhile, Etisalat’s attempt to acquire a 46% interest in Kuwaiti operator Zain has been dealt a blow with Zain’s rejection of all offers for 25% of its Saudi Arabian unit. Selling Zain’s Saudi interests is seen as an essential preliminary to its takeover by Etisalat, as the Abu Dhabi-based telco already has a licence in Saudi Arabia through its ownership of MNO Mobily. Although unable to meet an end-of-February due diligence deadline concerning the prospective Zain deal, Etisalat has said that it hopes the deal is not dead. Ahmed bin Ali, Etisalat’s corporate communications manager, said that the carrier’s stand on the Zain acquisition is unchanged: “Information related to the due diligence has been collected, and Etisalat is in the process of analysing this information. The results will be discussed with the seller at a later stage, and the final results will be presented to Etisalat’s board of directors to make a decision on.”

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