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Calling in cheaper rates

The UAE has just approved the license for its third telecoms operator, Yahsat. Will this lead to a greater variety of services and lower prices for consumers?


March 1, 2010 1:52 by

The ‘duopoly’ in the UAE telecoms sector is about to be broken. The local regulator has just awarded a ten-year license to the Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) to operate alongside existing operators Etisalat and du. Yahsat will be allowed to install, operate and manage a public telecoms network through satellites, and provide voice, data, video and internet services.

“The licensing of Yahsat comes as confirmation of the role of the TRA [Telecommunications Regulatory Authority] in driving the telecommunications market in the country to compete globally, and through this license Yahsat will provide the region’s first multi-purpose satellite telecommunications system,” Mohammed Nasser al-Ghanim, director general of TRA, said during a press conference announcing the launch on Sunday.

Yahsat’s satellites will extend telecom facilities to 81 countries across the Middle East, Africa and South-West Asia, according to the company’s chairman Waleed al-Muhairi. The first satellite, Yahsat 1A, is expected to be launched during the first quarter of 2011 and it will start offering services from the second half of the year. Yahstat 1B is scheduled to be launched during the second half of 2011.

The move will help in “ensuring adequacy of telecommunications services throughout the UAE; achieving enhancement of services, both in terms of quality and variety; resolving any disputes between the licensed operators; promoting new technologies; and ensuring that the UAE becomes the regional ICT hub,” the TRA said in a statement.

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