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Yahsat expands UAE presence in Africa with satellite broadband service by 2010

The United Arab Emirates is increasing its stake in Africa's telecommunications market with Al Yah Satellite Communications' move, announced last week, to launch two satellites dedicated to providing cheap bandwidth.

The company, also known widely as Yahsat, will provide cheap options for many businesses and rural communities in Africa, said Kevin Viret, Yahsat regional director-Africa.

The "YahClick" service will be available in 2010 and the Yahsat 1B, a second satellite, will be launched in mid 2011, said Viret. Equipment to receive the satellite signal including VSAT dish, modem and cables will cost about $350 compared to $2,500 charged today, and a 512KB link will cost $30 per month.

The launch of the satellites will consolidate the investments from the UAE led by Etisalat, which owns a 20 percent stake in The East Africa Marine System (TEAMS) fiber-optic cable.

Etisalat is a major player in Africa's mobile phone market supporting voice, data and value added services in Niger, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Togo and the Central Africa Republic.

Yahsat is a subsidiary of the government's Mubadala Development Company and will provide C-band and Ka-band coverage over the Middle East, Africa and Europe with a single beam.

"The service is well equipped to offer cost effective communication links for applications such as corporate data networks, Internet trunking and GSM backhauling," said Salma Al Mansouri, communications manager at Yahsat.

"YahLink" will be offered to a diverse customer base including telecom and cellular operators, ISPs, banks and financial institutions, oil and gas enterprises, construction companies, and government agencies, the company said.

Last year, Mohammed Omran, Etisalat's chairman, said he expects operations in Africa to account for at least 25 percent of revenue within four years as 4 million customers are added in West Africa by the end of 2010.

Computerworld Kenya

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