With demand for data services soaring, satellite operators are also seeing a sharp rise in demand for a range of services, from voice and v-sat to backhaul. CommsMEA discusses the latest trends in the sector with four key stakeholders.

The experts:

Masood M.Sharif Mahmood, CEO, Yahsat

Hussein Oteifa, senior regional director, SES

Jean-Philippe Gillet, regional vice president for Europe and Middle East sales, Intelsat

Ali Al-Kuwari, CEO, Es’hailSat


CommsMEA: How has growth been in the past 12 months? What developments have there been at your company?

Mahmood: 2012 was an instrumental year for Yahsat, by the end of 2012 all of the services we promised we would deliver were delivered, real live services. We’re talking about Yahclick satellite broadband and internet delivered on the ground, and backhaul. We also rolled out YahService, our government and managed services business, with government clients over here.

The launch of our second satellite in April 2012 was a milestone. Having fully delivered the services that we originally promised by year end was something we were happy with, and it made us confident.

Oteifa: We are seeing good healthy growth. I see a shift from trunking, which was big business 10 years ago. I see the trend changing from trunking to vsat satellite communications, and more towards sticky applications. Basically we have seen the growth change by the type of application, if you go back in history we used to sell much IP trunking, point-to-point, and we found that customers became more skillful or discovered new applications that triggered more demand, ie corporate networks or banking networks, so I do see growth happening from those types of applications. We see projects like connecting banking together and schools – it is exciting.

Most of the revenue is coming to the company from the broadcasters, mainly in Europe, but 26% of the revenue is coming from emerging markets, Middle East, Africa Asia, Latin America.

Gillet: There are three segments to our business, media, network services and government. If you look at our revenue today, about 46% of the business is generated by network services, 33% is generated with media and the rest is with government services. The way we look at our business, it is balanced between the three different applications, and also balanced between the different regions. Today we have relationships with all the telecoms and media players. We operate a fleet of about 50 satellites and we generated about $2.6 billion of revenue in 2012.

In Africa, we have more than 20 satellites covering the region, it is a large market, an area where we have always been active and it is one of our core markets. We touch most of the telecom operators, as well as media business in Africa.

We have launched in the past 12 months five different satellites that are covering the region. Three of those five are touching the Middle East region.

CommsMEA: Which services or verticals are proving to be the strongest for you?

Oteifa: Mobile backhaul, so we work with the major incumbent telecom operators in the Middle East. We find that in countries like Saudi Arabia or Oman, even though they are heavily fibred there are still a lot of areas not served yet because of the wide geographic area of the region. The backhaul, I don’t see that it will fade away. But of course the operators still have licencing obligations to meet. Also, if networks are damaged, network operators often need satellite.

Maritime is also big for us. A lot of ships go through the gulf or even between North Africa and the Atlantic. Then there is oil and gas, for which we usually work through partners.