Panasonic Avionics, UAE’s Yahsat in MoU on Mideast mobile-broadband constellation

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PARIS – Satellite fleet operator Yahsat of the United Arab Emirates and global in-flight connectivity provider Panasonic Avionics on Aug. 10 said they would jointly explore a future Yahsat-buit mobile broadband satellite constellation over the Middle East.

The memorandum of understanding also includes future Yahsat use of Panasonic communications technologies.

Abu Dhabi-based Yahsat operates two satellites in geostationary orbit for military and commercial customers, including a Ka-band broadband service called YahClick. Yahsat, which has never hidden its ambitions to become a global satellite player, has a third satellite under construction at Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, which is scheduled for launch in early 2017 to provide coverage in Africa and Brazil.

Panasonic Avionics has been one of the most visible large-volume customers of satellite fleet operators including Intelsat, SES and Eutelsat as the Lake Forest, California-based company stitches together a seamless global network of Ku-band satellite capacity for Panasonic’s airline and maritime customers.

Mobile broadband has been the fastest-growing satellite application in the past couple of years, a time when conventional satellite services revenue growth has slowed. Major satellite fleet operators including SES, Intelsat, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, ViaSat and EchoStar/Hughes are all either investing in or considering investment in this market.

Under the Aug. 10 agreement, the two companies will collaborate on designs of a constellation that would be in service “within the next three to five years,” they said in a joint statement.

“Yahsat and Panasonic will assess the various technical requirements for such an offering,” the statement said. “The companies will explore a wide range of factors including the type of frequency to be used, the coverage and capacity needed to serve flight routes in this [Middle East] region, the type of antenna and radome to be used, and the certification requirements of such a solution.”

Yahsat Chief Executive Massod M. Mahmood and Panasonic Avionics Chief Executive Paul Margis signed the agreement.

“Building on our substantial broadband satellite experience in our markets in the Middle East and Africa, and leveraging our experience in delivering advanced airborne solutions for our customers, this represents another significant milestone for Yahsat,” Mahmood said. “We move a step closer to the UAE’s Networked Readiness Index Vision by 2021, and position Yahsat at the forefront of one of the most coveted segments of satellite connectivity.”

Margis said Panasonic Avionics sees the agreement as “a unique opportunity for Panasonic and Yahsat to define a new state of the art in satellite communications for routes across the Middle East.”