Qatar’s own satellite company

Es'hailSat CEO discusses plans of expansion and introduction of new services
Ali Al Kuwari, Es'hailSat CEO
Ali Al Kuwari, Es'hailSat CEO

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Es'hailSat, the Qatar-based satellite company, remains on track to launch its second satellite this year and plans further launches in other, “prime orbital locations”. CommsMEA can also reveal that the company is in talks with other operators to help it achieve global coverage.

“The Es’hailSat fleet covers the entire MENA region from the key 25.5°/26° E orbital position with capacity in both Ku-band and Ka-band. Our core focus is the MENA region, but our intention has always been to become a global provider of satellite connectivity and services,” explains Ali Al Kuwari, CEO, Es’hailSat. “We have had multiple discussions with various parties and are in advanced discussions with a satellite operator in East Asia for mutual co-operation. We will announce further updates regarding expanded coverage opportunities in due time.”

Es’hailSat has one satellite in operation, Es’hail-1, and Es’hail-2, is scheduled to be launched in Q4 this year. Both satellites will be co-located at the 25.5°/26° E broadcast hotspot. In terms of ground infrastructure, the provider has shared facilities with partners and customers to provide broadcast and hub services. It is also building its own ground infrastructure at a dedicated 50,000m2 teleport facility in Doha, which is scheduled to be ready by the middle of 2016.

The Es’hailSat fleet covers the entire MENA region from the 25.5°/26° E orbital position with capacity in both Ku-band and Ka-band. Its satellites feature the latest anti-jamming technology, a feature that the company sees as a key advantage over other providers in the region.

“The feature provides uplink isolation for our customers from intended or unintended uplink interference,” says Al Kuwari. “For customers who value quality of service, Es’hail-1 provides them a platform to provide uninterrupted, high quality and interference free service to consumers for broadcast, broadband and mission critical VSAT services.”

The operator can potentially offer a broad range of services, including transmission, newsgathering, telecomms and broadband internet access. A recent agreement with Ooredoo, the Qatari telco, will see the companies work together on a range of new satellite and communications services.

“Demand for VSAT services has risen sharply in recent years, particularly in remote locations such as deserts and coastal areas,” explains Al Kuwari. “Our partnership with Ooredoo helps drive homegrown innovation and stimulate the development of a full portfolio of solutions to support VSAT services.”

Al Kuwari adds that Es’hailSat is investing in and helping developing local talent through training programs with satellite manufacturers and providing scholarships for students to study satellite communications.

In 2013, the company initiated a capacity-building and development program with its first satellite Es’hail-1. Four engineers from Es’hailSat completed a 26-month intensive training program with SSL in California.

For Es’hail-2, trainee engineers have been attached to MELCO in Japan and Es’hailSat engineers have been sent to MELCO as resident engineers to ensure knowledge transfer. Es’hailSat’s goal is to develop native expertise in satellite communications technology.

“In addition, we have sponsored a number of Qatari school leavers who have enrolled in degrees specialising in satellite communications at the University of Surrey in the UK,” Al Kuwari says. “Having satellite knowledge and operational experience plays a vital role in greater self reliance and therefore sustainability of the space industry in Qatar.”

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