Joint venture to provide satellite broadband services across Africa

08 November 2018

Hughes Network Systems and Yahsat have agreed to form a new joint venture to provide commercial Ka-band satellite broadband services across Africa, the Middle East and south-west Asia.

The two companies plan to work together to provide unserved and underserved communities with reliable, high-speed internet services. 

While Hughes has bought a 20 per cent stake in the joint venture for USD100m, Yahsat has not disclosed the value of its investment.

Yahsat will provide capacity from its Al Yah 2 and Al Yah 3 satellites – the latter finally began commercial services in July following a problematic launch at the start of the year.

Yahsat said the satellite was already supporting MVNO users and five new markets, and that the impact of the delay was covered by its insurance agreement. The company did not reveal any further details or figures here.

The satellites will leverage Hughes’ JUPITER system which is designed to optimise large scale high-throughput satellites. The company will also supply its OSS/BSS platforms.

Initially, the venture will focus on direct-to-premise services to homes and SMEs, and to community centres and schools that are served under local government programmes.

In parallel, the two companies said there will be an increased focus on community hotspot solutions to make satellite-enabled broadband more accessible to many more users across the footprint covered by Yahsat’s two satellites.

In addition, the partners say their venture will also aim to capitalise on the “accelerating transition” towards Ka-band based backhaul and carrier solutions from mobile network operators.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, and is expected to occur later this year.

Yahsat CEO Masood M. Sharif Mahmood reckons his company’s track record and experience in operating the YahClick broadband service, combined with Hughes technology and experience, are a “winning proposition to unlock the mass market potential of satellite broadband services across the region”.

When asked if this latest partnership affects Yahsat’s deal with Eutelsat and its Konnect Africa initiative, Mahmood said the deal was still live and that Eutelsat remained an “important customer”.