Asharq Al Awsat invests in satellite technology

Asharq Al Awsat, a Pan-Arab daily newspaper, has invested in five Inmarsat Regional BGAN terminals to enable the easy delivery and exchange of news and multimedia files across all of its offices.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  October 2, 2003

Asharq Al Awsat, a Pan-Arab daily newspaper, has invested in five Inmarsat Regional BGAN terminals to enable the easy delivery and exchange of news and multimedia files across all of its offices. The decision was made after the newspaper's reporters found it difficult to send news files in time to their office owing to the lack of a reliable telecommunication infrastructure in Iraq.

"This is especially important because we are a pan-Arab newspaper. So we are right in the middle of it and therefore, must be able to offer insight and substantial commentary and news reporting on Iraq," says Adnan Hussein, politics editor, Asharq Al Awsat. "And under these conditions, the only way our reporters could manage to do their job well was by relying on high-speed Inmarsat satellite technology," he adds.

Mohammed Sirhan, head of Engineering, Asharq Al Awsat adds that broadcasters and media houses cannot rely on conventional methods such as fax or voice dictation over conventional landlines during a war to get news across as quickly as satellite can. "As a result, we invested in five Inmarsat Regional BGAN (Regional Broadband Global Area Network) terminals in preparation for the surge in news that was predicted to come out of the region. The Regional BGAN units were firstly commissioned for the sole purpose of transmitting our paper in Kuwait and KSA.

"We've always had a satellite network, however during the first Gulf War (1990) and in 1998, we had reception problems which made us look into alternatives, like Regional BGAN, which proved to be a reliable source of backup. The reporters are still using the terminals to send files back and forth, and they did not have to worry about missing print deadlines," he adds.

According to Sirhan, one of the key features of Regional BGAN is its compatibility with PCs and MACs. "We did not have to worry about what type of computer the reporters were using and whether those would be compatible with the ones in our offices. Our operations ran smoothly and efficiently throughout the events," he says.

Today, Asharq Al Awsat has an office set up in Baghdad, which uses Regional BGAN to feed stories across the region. Another terminal is in Kuwait, one in the London office and two in Saudi Arabia.

"Although these countries have a telecommunication infrastructure in place, we rely on our own satellite network for feeding news and rely on Regional BGAN as our reliable back-up system in cases of jamming or slow connectivity. News cannot be delayed, no matter what, and when reports arrive at a critical time, then we cannot take any risks," Sirhan explains.

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