Eutelsat’s Middle East aspirations were given a shot in the arm thanks to a deal in Qatar. In mid-May, the operator signed a deal with ictQatar (representing the State of Qatar) to invest in and operate a high-capacity satellite that will be launched in 2012 to Eutelsat’s 25.5 degrees East slot.
The deal is a significant one in terms of the Middle East satellite landscape, says Jawad Abbassi, CEO of Arab Advisors. “This development underscores the heightened interest amongst Arab governments to launch state-of-the-art satellites to meet future demand and help spur economic growth. Most of the Arab countries are shareholders in Arabsat (with Saudi Arabia being the largest shareholder), Egypt has Nilesat, [the United Arab Emirates] will launch Yahsat, and now Qatar will have its own as well. This is certainly a positive development and good news for consumers, as capacity increases should result in healthy competition.”
Eutelsat says the satellite is intended to provide both a significantly expanded mission and superior coverage and power across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia to follow-on from Eutelsat’s Eurobird 2 satellite, which is at 25.5 degrees East. In addition to securing Ku-band continuity for Eutelsat and additional Ku-band resources for ictQatar, it will initiate a Ka-band capability opening business opportunities for both parties. This multi-mission architecture will enable both partners to respond to the fastest-growing applications in the Middle East and Africa, including video broadcasting, enterprise communications and government services. The television market will benefit from a base of more than 13 million satellite homes already equipped for DTH reception from this neighborhood.
Hessa Al Jaber, secretary general of ictQatar, told Via Satellite that this is landmark deal for Qatar and that such are the demands for capacity, ictQatar could look to partner with other satellite operators in the future.
VIA SATELLITE: What are the benefits of the Eutelsat deal for ictQatar?
Al Jaber: Eutelsat owns the rights to orbital slot 25.5 degrees East, and this is a critical location for MENA (Middle East and North Africa) broadcasting. Since Qatar does not have the necessary orbital assets and the orbital coverage rights associated with Qatar’s own slots are limited to Qatar only, we thought this was great opportunity to gain independence and control of spacecraft. Moreover, Eutelsat is a motivated partner with aligned mutual interests.