Yahsat was founded in 2007 with a mission to connect people through satellite communications at an affordable price.
“Social equality and economic security cannot be achieved without effective and affordable communication,” said Najat Abdulrahman, Executive Vice President of Global Strategic Business Development at Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat). Abdulrahman was speaking at the recently held “Enabling Through Connectivity Forum” organized by Yahsat’s broadband service, Yahclick, where she explained Yahsat’s plans and goals for Jordan and the region.
The company has successfully launched three satellites and has successfully connected over a billion people worldwide through its reliable services. Yahsat, which is owned by Mubadala, the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi Government, is led by a team of dynamic, active and forward-thinking Emiratis, according to Abdulrahman.
What services does Yahsat provide that distinguishes it from other telecom and satellite companies?
Yahsat has three main verticals. YahClick is our broadband service that empowers communities by providing connectivity and helping to drive social change, wellbeing and overall development. Yahlive is our satellite broadcast service that allows people across regions including the Middle East and North Africa to enjoy high-quality content. We also have Yahsat Government Solutions and Yahlink.
YahClick allows us to bring connectivity to individuals, small businesses, enterprises, humanitarian organizations, and governments. Our services start where fixed networks or mobile networks end. With our technology we are able to reach even the remotest of areas, providing robust connectivity for these previously unconnected communities.
A lot of companies, individuals, and organizations, use our solutions as a back-up option. If their connections go down, ours go up. But in other areas where there isn’t anything present, our satellite connection is primary. Our role is to develop partnerships with solution providers so that we can combine it with our satellite services and offer end-to-end solutions anywhere within our coverage area.
What makes our offerings more interesting is the use of ka-band, which is a relatively new frequency that was developed a few years ago. We were the first to bring it to the region, particularly in Africa. Ka-band is a reusable, high through-put satellite frequency which yields economies of scale and cost savings. The other major difference is unlike the previously used satellite equipment, which was heavy, bulky and expensive; we offer small, portable equipment that is easy to install at a lower cost to both individuals and companies.
Do you see a need for this in the humanitarian and non-profit sector?
We are working closely with regional and international humanitarian organisations. There is a lot of interest and potential in this field because, unfortunately, the need for humanitarian work seems to be increasing. This presents a real opportunity for collaboration between governments, NGOs and satellite providers to ensure that humanitarian initiatives are managed seamlessly.
Humanitarian needs are growing. What was once an emergency disaster has now evolved into a settlement. Whether it’s in Southwest Asia or in our own region, there are a lot of misplaced and displaced people who need to go on with their lives.
Satellite communications have always been there but have not always been affordable. The affordability, the ease of transport, and the accessibility to satellite itself can make a real difference in the lives of individuals and organisations. Budgets are tight and communication is still needed. A lot of humanitarian organizations today have traditional c-band and ku-band connectivity. We are committed to facilitating transition to a better frequency which is not only cost effective but also more reliable.
Communication is a digital lifeline and it’s what we offer. The minute you have internet connection you have access to the world. For example, through it you can offer education and make e-learning possible. There are endless possibilities which can become a reality with broadband connectivity.
As far as obstacles go, what do you face in the field and how do you respond to the challenges?
I believe that there is a learning curve for every organization. There are challenges in every industry but they enable you to grow, evolve and innovate.
When it comes to satellite broadband, there is still a need for education and awareness. It is important to educate people about different frequencies and why some of them are more economical and reliable. We work with our service partners in different markets to create awareness around satellite connectivity options and enable end users to make more informed decisions.
We’re also constantly looking to reinvent ourselves to provide better services while keeping our pricing competitive. With our third satellite, we have just added 19 new countries into our coverage area to expand connectivity to Brazil and further underserved areas in Africa.
With regards to the humanitarian sector, initially we faced challenges as there was little collaboration between the private sector and humanitarian agencies, however, we overcame that. Today Yahsat is a part of the Crisis Connectivity Charter that facilitates cross-agency cooperation and emergency response.
Despite obstacles, we’re very excited to see what the future holds. Today we are the seventh largest satellite company by revenue but we aim to be in the top 5 in terms of revenue, technology and scope of services within a few years.