Hughes, Yahsat target Brazil with second joint venture

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WASHINGTON — Satellite operators Hughes and Yahsat have formed a second joint venture, this time focused on broadband in Brazil.

The companies announced May 6 that the new joint venture will use more than 65 gigabits per second of Ka-band capacity supplied from Yahsat’s Al Yah 3 satellite and Hughes’ leased payloads on Eutelsat’s 65 West A satellite and Telesat’s Telstar-19 Vantage satellite.

Germantown, Maryland-based Hughes and Yahsat of Abu Dhabi, UAE, formed a joint venture last year focused on satellite broadband across Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia. That company started operations in December.

In a statement, Hughes President Pradman Kaul described Yahsat as the “logical partner for Hughes in Brazil.”

Hughes and Yahsat say their satellites cover more than 95 percent of Brazil’s population. The joint venture will gain more capacity when Jupiter-3, a half-terabit satellite from Maxar Technologies, launches in 2021, the companies said.

Hughes and Yahsat’s new joint venture will offer internet access directly to consumers and through community Wi-Fi hotspots. Other target markets include businesses desiring their own networks and cellular companies who want to backhaul data over satellite.

Hughes will be the majority shareholder in the joint venture, which is expected to finalize later this year after receiving customary regulatory approvals.

Kaul, speaking at a press conference May 6, said Hughes will own 80 percent of the Brazil joint venture, with Yahsat owning the remaining 20 percent. No cash was exchanged in forming the Brazilian company, he said, unlike the first joint venture.

Hughes invested $100 million in its first joint venture with Yahsat for what Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, Yahsat’s CEO, said was a 20 percent stake. Yahsat owns the remaining 80 percent of the first joint venture. 

Kaul estimated that of the roughly 65 gigabits per second of capacity available to the joint venture, 30 to 40 percent is already in use. He said consumer broadband will almost certainly be the largest market segment, similar to Hughes’ business in the United States.