FARNBOROUGH, England — Fast-growing regional satellite fleet operators ABS of Bermuda and Arabsat of Saudi Arabia on July 15 announced a strategic partnership in which Arabsat will lease 10 Ku-band transponders on the ABS-3A satellite for 15 years to cover the Middle East and North Africa.
The contract gives ABS-3A, one of the first of Boeing’s new all-electric satellite designs, an anchor tenant for its 3 degrees west orbital slot, from which ABS expects to serve customers between the Americas and Europe as well as provide complete Middle East and North Africa coverage.
Riyadh-based Arabsat has requested bids for four of its own satellites and expects to start selecting contractors in the coming weeks. But Arabsat Chief Executive Khalid Balkheyour, in a statement on the ABS lease, said the company is seeing such an increase in demand that these four satellites will not come soon enough.
“Arabsat has put in the market a request for proposals for four new satellites at different locations and yet we continue to see rapid increase in customers’ demand,” Balkheyour said. In addition to its own fleet, Arabsat now manages Hellas-Sat, the Greek satellite operator, which is now owned by Arabsat.
ABS and Satmex of Mexico, which is now called Eutelsat Americas after its purchase by Paris-based Eutelsat, came together on a four-satellite order for all-electric satellites from Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, California, in March 2012. The satellites are designed to launch two at a time aboard Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rockets.
“The MENA [Middle East/North Africa] beam of ABS-3A is the first time ABS has been able to provide a complete coverage of all of Middle East and North Africa,” ABS Chief Executive Tom Choi said. “We are proud to announce ARABSAT as our strategic partner on this capacity which will serve the growing needs of their MENA customer base.”
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