Yahsat, Hughes update on 6th satellite

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Abu Dhabi’s Al Yah Satellite Communications (better known as Yahsat) is building a sixth satellite. The company also owns the Thuraya telecoms satellite system and, with Thuraya, have five satellites in total already operating.

According to reports Yahsat is well advanced with its 6th satellite (Thuraya-4) under construction with Airbus. Thuraya-4 is designed to have significantly more capacity that Thuraya-2 or Thuraya-3.

The reports add that Yahsat wants Thuraya-4 to be operational by 2024 and will replace Thuraya-2 and Thuraya-3 on orbit. However, there’s still plenty of life left in Thuraya-3 which, although not yet confirmed, is likely to be moved to a new mission and coverage area.

The new L-band satellite from Airbus will offer higher capabilities and increase capacity and coverage across Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, enabling next-generation mobility solutions for the government and other enterprises.

Yahsat also has an option with Airbus for an additional satellite (provisionally dubbed Thuraya 5) and potentially targeted for the Asia-Pacific region. Yahsat acquired Thuraya back in 2018.

Speaking exclusively with Advanced-Television, Ramesh Ramaswamy, SVP and GM, International Division at Hughes, who formed a satellite broadband joint venture with Yahsat in December 2018, says that as far as global business is concerned, Hughes does not believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

“It’s not always best for a company to try and do it all by themselves. We believe in leveraging the strengths of regional players in developing business tailored to local environments. Our strength is having developed such partners all across the globe, and the Yahsat relationship is a prime example of that,” he said

“Working together in two strategic joint ventures, Hughes and Yahsat are committed to connecting unserved and underserved communities across Africa, the Middle East, southwest Asia and Brazil with satellite broadband. In Africa and the Middle East, the joint venture operates under the YahClick brand, delivering service over Yahsat’s Al Yah 2 (AY2) and Al Yah 3 (AY3) Ka-band satellites. These two high-throughput satellites extend coverage to more than 1 billion people and leverage the capabilities of the Hughes JUPITER System to deliver high performing and efficient broadband services. In these markets, the JV offers enterprise and consumer services, including enterprise networks, cellular backhaul, consumer broadband and community Wi-Fi hotspots,” he added.

“In Brazil, the joint venture combines the Yahsat subscribers and capabilities into the Hughes do Brasil brand and brings together the Ka-band satellite capacity on Hughes 65 West and Hughes 63 West, as well as the payload over Brazil on the Al-Yah 3 High-Throughput Satellite, called Hughes 20 West. Together, the three satellites extend coverage to reach more than 95 percent of Brazil’s population with high-speed broadband,” he explained.

“Seamlessly integrating the Yahsat Brazil operation into the Hughes Brazil operation was no easy feat, and the pandemic posed an additional hurdle to our efforts. However, with detailed planning and careful execution, Hughes do Brasil successfully merged operations in just a few months. Yahsat used different systems and equipment, so the first task was to migrate the 20,000 satellite internet subscribers on Hughes 20 West to the JUPITER System. Next, Hughes incorporated Yahsat’s existing network of 20 regional distributors and approximately 400 dealers into our program – including creating new contracts and conducting trainings on Hughes systems and processes. After conducted a promising pilot test, the team will soon roll out a HughesNet Voice service so that subscribers in rural areas can make and receive voice over IP (VoIP) calls.”

“Whether it’s individual terminals, community Wi-Fi or cellular backhaul, the JV seamlessly merges Hughes and Yahsat’s technical and operational expertise to link thousands of people and enterprises in regions where terrestrial broadband options are unavailable or are simply too expensive,” concluded Ramaswamy.


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