Broadband connectivity through satellite has become a reality in the region after a deal signed by Etisalat and Streamlink Communications Co, Kuwait, offering prospects of increased bandwidth speeds at ever more competitive rates.

"Through our agreement with Etisalat, we have co-located our DVB-RCS gateway services at their UAE facilities, to provide high-speed Internet and multimedia connectivity to our clients. This gateway is the first in the Middle East and third in the world of its kind, using open standard DVB-RCS technology," said a joint statement issued yesterday.

Saeed M. Al Bahar, Etisalat's general manager of international business, and Jaafar Najdi, CEO of Streamlink Communications Co, signed the agreement for hosting DVB-RCS equipment at Etisalat TAS Earth Station/Teleport in the UAE, and the provisioning of Internet Backbone Connection through Emix (Emirates Internet Exchange).

Etisalat has become the de facto Internet backbone connectivity provider since the establishment of Emix.

The statement noted the satellite-based broadband services are being provided for the first time in the Middle East utilising expertise of the group of companies involved in this project.

"This agreement will result in providing all countries in the Middle East and Central Asia with broadband Internet services; both two-way (DVB-RCS) and one-way (DVB-S) services at a bandwidth speed never experienced before, at a price never more affordable.

"Our gateways are built around several transponders of space segment utilising the latest technology implemented by New Skies, the world leader in satellite communications. Streamlink will be utilising two of the most recently launched satellites by New Skies, NSS6 located at 95 degrees east, and NSS7 located at 338 degrees east," the statement added.

It noted the efforts of the two organisations mark the beginning of a new era in broadband satellite services provision in the Middle East and North African regions.

"This venture will leap-frog the regions into Broadband Internet Services that had seemed unattainable until now, in many parts of the region. Furthermore, it will bridge the technology divide in the region."

Streamlink is a subsid-iary of The Securities House, established in 1982 as a Kuwaiti shareholder closed company.