Yahsat’s new satellite to offer mobility and IoT services

Yahsat’s new satellite to offer mobility and IoT services

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 scale.

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 future”.

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.”