Hussein Oteifa, senior regional director for SES in the Middle East, discusses SES’ scale, scope and plans for the future.
CommsMEA: Tell me about SES. What does the company do in a nutshell?
We are one of the world-leading fixed service satellite (FSS) satellite operators with a global fleet of 52 satellites. We deliver satellite connectivity so companies, government organisations and people like you and me can stay connected via telephone, internet access, voice-over-IP, telemetry data and video conferencing services at all times.
We are also the world’s leading satellite distribution platform for TV: delivering over 5,200 TV channels, out of which 1,400 are in HD, to over 258 million homes across the globe.
In the Middle East, we provide capacity to different customer segments such as telco and VSAT operators, MNOs and media companies. Some of the key verticals our customers are engaged in include oil and gas, maritime, aeronautical, government services, banking and GSM backhaul among others.
CommsMEA: What is SES doing to serve telco operators in the Middle East?
We are committed to expanding in this dynamic region and have taken steps to grow our presence and strengthen our service offerings to our customers.
We are in the midst of a massive global fleet investment and have launched eight satellites since 2011. We will be launching five more satellites before 2015. This deployment of replacement and new capacity with our newly-launched satellite, SES-4 at 338° East, and another upcoming satellite, ASTRA 2E at 28.2° East, shows our commitment to provide regional telecom operators with sufficient capacity to serve customers and connect businesses in the Middle East region.
SES has also invested in O3b Networks, a next generation network service provider which will be launching the world’s first medium Earth orbit satellite constellation in 2013. O3b Networks will provide a fibre-quality, satellite-based, global internet backbone for telcos and ISPs in the Middle East and Africa.
CommsMEA: What are some of the key projects you have done recently in the ME?
We cover virtually all segments with our capacity - from government backed initiatives to commercial opportunities for companies operating throughout the region.
For example, we have helped in connecting almost 1,000 schools as part of the education initiative in Saudi Arabia. We have also helped several foreign affair ministries in the Middle East to reach their embassies across the region, and into Africa and Asia.
On the commercial side, we have worked closely with customers such as ICCES to provide broadband and residential connectivity to SOHO customers in Saudi Arabia and North Africa.
We also serve the oil & gas sector, through offering our capacity to major licensed VSAT operators in the region. Furthermore, we are currently serving a large GSM backhaul in the Gulf via NSS-6 at 95° East.
To meet the needs of the video market, we have formed a partnership with YahSat. YahLive offers HD offerings via satellite TV in the region.
These are just a snapshot of our recent activities with many more to come in the pipeline.
CommsMEA: What sets SES apart from other global satellite operators?
SES has experienced much success since its entry in the region because we have a reliable fleet, experienced team and the right attitude in building long term relationships with our customers. Our ambition is to enable our customers to grow their business.
Our success in transmitting TV channels worldwide is also what sets us apart. In Europe, we pioneered satellite broadcasting back in the 1980s, under the ASTRA brand name, and have been very active in working with industry partners to define new industry standards of HD. In North America, we are the premier distributor of cable programming and in Asia, we are the leading direct-to-home satellite operator, reaching more homes than any other satellite operator.
At SES, we understand the need to stay ahead of market trends. To handle the increasing demand of triple play, mobile broadband, OTT services, among others, we have been working with industry partners to come up with innovative solutions. SAT>IP is one such solution. By converting satellite signals to IP for any IP-enabled device, viewers can watch satellite TV potentially on their tablets and smartphones with an unrivalled flexibility as they move around the house.
CommsMEA: What growth opportunities do you see in the MEA region in the next couple of years?
The next couple of years will be exciting for the region. We have high expectations that aeronautical mobility will present a new opportunity for telcos to provide connectivity in the skies. Given the premium quality and reputation of the Gulf carriers, providing connectivity in the skies will be crucial in going the extra mile for airlines to enhance customer satisfaction.
In addition, the maritime market will also present new opportunities for some operators. In the wake of the Arab Spring, we also anticipate more national projects will begin to take shape such as ICT initiatives, education initiatives, fulfilling universal service obligations, among others.