Yahsat Offsets Drop in U.S. Demand for Middle East Bandwidth

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WASHINGTON – Satellite fleet operator Yahsat of the United Arab Emirates has been able to offset to lower demand from the U.S. Defense Department for Yahsat’s military Ka-band capacity over the Middle East by increased use by regional governments, starting with the UAE, Yahsat Chief Executive Masood M. Sharif Mahmood said March 19.

Addressing the Satellite 2015 conference here, Masood M. Sharif Mahmood said his company like other fleet operators with major U.S. government business has seen a drop in demand with the U.S. withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But unlike its larger counterparts, including Intelsat, SES and Eutelsast, Al Yah Satellite Communications Co. has benefited from a regional increase in defense spending.

Yahsat in 2013 hired Airbus Defence and Space to sell Yahsat 1B military Ka-band capacity to the U.S. government. Earlier that year, Yahsat and the Yahsat 1B were certified by the U.S. Defense Department has compatible with the U.S. Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) military satellites which also use military Ka-band frequencies.

The certification was to make it easier for U.S. and allied troops using WGS to switch over to Yahsat 1B in the event of a capacity shortage on a given WGS satellite.

Yahsat 1B, operated from 47.6 degrees east, has a coverage area that would appear to be ideal for governments interested in the Middle East, Africa and South, Central and Southeast Asia – more than 40 nations in total.

Under Mahmood, Yahsat has begun an expansion into South America, bidding on Brazilian satellite slots. It has ordered a third satellite, called Al Yah 3, from Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia.

Mahmood said the company reported more than $280 million in revenue in 2014, with double-digit growth in revenue, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), net income and free cash flow.