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Abu Dhabi-based Yahsat (Al Yah Satellite Communications) already has two satellites in orbit, and a third under construction. But its CEO Masood Sharif Mahmood says it wants another four to be in place by about 2020.
Yahsat’s launch history to date is conventional in that its first craft (Yahsat 1A) launched in 2011, and its second (Y-1B) in 2012. Its 3rd craft is currently under construction by Orbital ATK and is due to be placed into orbit in 1H/2017 to 20 degrees West by an Arianespace rocket.
Yahsat itself is a private business wholly owned by Mubadala, the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi Government. The company operates the YahLive portfolio of DTH channels from Y-1A in a joint-venture with SES of Luxembourg.
“We are ready for launch of our third satellite and have signed subscriber contracts in Brazil and Africa,” CEO Masood Sharif Mahmood told Reuters at an industry event. “Next are (the launch of) four satellites together,” he added, which would take its fleet to seven by the end of the decade. This next batch of 4 would include capacity to serve In Flight connectivity as well as for the UAE’s government usage.
“You will see us at number four or five in revenues globally from number seven now,” Mahmood said, suggesting that the company’s ambitions are considerable.
Currently the two top broadcasting satellite operators are Intelsat and SES (the actual position depends on whether satellites in orbit or revenues are the benchmark) followed by Eutelsat (3) and Telesat of Canada at Number 4. SkyPerfect/JSAT of Japan is usually placed at No. 5, and then Arabsat which takes the 6th position.
Both Arabsat and Yahsat have and are investing in new capacity. By the end of 2017 it could well be that Yahsat overtakes Arabsat into the No 6 spot. Yahsat’s revenues are currently around $272 million, but this time next year they could be passing $400 million. The prospects for 2020-2021 could easily place the operator much higher up the satellite league table.