Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) was yesterday granted a 10-year licence to provide satellite services by the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).
The move will allow Yahsat, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company, to instal, operate and manage a public telecommunications network and provide satellite telecom services.
"The licensing of Yahsat comes as confirmation of the role of TRA in driving the country's telecommunications so it can compete globally," said TRA Director-General Mohammed Nasser Al Ghanim. "Through this licence Yahsat will provide the region's first multi-purpose satellite telecommunications system.
"The authority's regulatory framework for licensing contains two categories of licenses, individual licenses and class licenses, based on international best practices in the field."
This is the first individual licence of this nature that the TRA has issued.
Yahsat signed a $1.66 billion (Dh6bn) contract in 2007 with a French consortium consisting of Thales, Alenia and Eads Astrium to develop a fully-integrated satellite system. The company signed another contract with Arianespace and International Launch Services to launch the two satellites.
After signing these contracts, Yahsat began constructing a ground control station for the two satellites at Al Falah, which is 50km away from Abu Dhabi city. The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of this year.
Yahsat's Waleed Al Muhairi said: "The satellites will be available in 81 countries. Yahsat will provide hybrid satellite communications services to commercial and governmental clients in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South-West Asia."
He said there had been delay to the launch of the satellites due to an earthquake at French Guiana where the Ariane launching facilities were located. The first satellite had originally been scheduled for launch in the first quarter of this year and the second in 2011.
But Al Muhairi said the first would now be launched in the first quarter of 2011 and the second in the first half of 2011 because the earthquake damaged the facilities.
Al Ghanim added: "The TRA's strategy is aimed at supporting government entities and corporations alike in delivering their services and products by facilitating the registration process. The licensing of Yahsat today is a testimony of our support for the ICT sector."
Yahsat will offer a range of voice, data, video and internet connectivity solutions designed to accommodate the demand for emerging applications in the satellite industry such as HDTV and broadband satellite services for both the commercial and government sectors in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South-West Asia.
Yahsat CEO Jassem Al Zaabi said: "We would like to thank the TRA for their confidence in Yahsat. It is an important day for Yahsat and a great opportunity for a satellite company with firm roots in the UAE to address the satellite communications requirements of not only the nation but the region as well. We look to our continued cooperation with the TRA."
Keep up with the latest business news from the region with the Emirates Business 24|7 daily newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.