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Yahsat to launch third satellite in the first half of next year

The company aims to double the fleet of satellites it operates and increase revenue by 60 to 70 per cent in the coming years

Image Credit: Courtesy: Yahsat
Masood M Sharif Mahmoud
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi-based Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) is planning to launch its third satellite in the first half of 2017 to expand broadband operations in Africa and Brazil, Chief Executive Officer of the company said in Abu Dhabi late on Wednesday.

“Progress is going on the third satellite. We are ready for the launch in the first half of 2017,” said Masood M Sharif Mahmoud speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of an event organised to discuss the current and future opportunities and challenges in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) satellite industry.

Yahsat, which is fully owned by Mubadala Development Company provides multi-purpose satellite solutions for broadband, broadcast, government and commercial use across the Middle East, Africa and Europe in addition to central Asia and South West Asia.

The company has two satellites in orbit including Y1A, which was launched in April 2011 and Y1B launched in April 2012.

The launch of its third satellite next year is expected to increase broadband coverage to an additional nineteen markets reaching 60 per cent of Africa’s population and over 95 per cent of Brazil’s population, marking the company’s first entry into Brazil.

The total investment in the third satellite is $350 million.

Speaking about the growth strategy of the firm in the coming years, Mahmoud said they aim to become fourth or fifth largest satellite communications company in the world from number seven at the moment in terms of revenue.

“We would be number four or five globally in the next five years. Our revenue will go up by 60 to 70 per cent and you will see us become a satellite company with a fleet of eight satellites,” he said.

Currently, the revenues of the company are more than Dh1 billion per annum.

“We have been steady from the beginning. We’ve had positive cash flows from year one. We have strong solid backlog on the government business that is helping us and solid double digit growth in commercial business,” Mahmoud said.

Yahsat has operations in 55 countries and offices in different locations including Abu Dhabi, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Pakistan and Nigeria. “We are constantly looking for opportunities. We signed a MoU with Panasonic Avionics and separate MoU with Eithad Airways. We had extremely positive discussions with Emirates airline, and good discussions with DG (Director General) of UAE Civil Aviation Authority.”

The MoU with Panasonic Avionics is related to providing broadband connectivity in different modes of transport and with Etihad Airlines, Yahsat is exploring opportunities to provide in-flight connectivity.

“We are going through a tectonic shift when it comes to satellite industry so we are seeking better engagement with stake holders and regulators and aviation industry specifically better engagement with disruptives like google and Facebook,” Mahmoud said.

Asked whether the firm has any plans to go public, he said they are currently focusing more on expanding their operations and delivering their products and services.