Nilesat bids for vertical growth

Nilesat is aiming to expand its regional capacity and is negotiating a contract which would allow it to expand its uplink facilities in the UAE.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  May 26, 2004

Nilesat is aiming to expand its regional capacity and is negotiating a contract which would allow it to expand its uplink facilities in the UAE. The Egypt-based satellite operator is planning to install a second transponder for Dubai Media City, which would help widen its client base in the Gulf. “We are encouraging new, private television companies to join Nilesat,” Saleh Hamza, the operator’s chief engineer, tells CommsMEA. “Dubai is one of the most active locations in the region and many TV channels are being initiated there. We are going to contract for another transponder,” he adds. The deal would complement Nilesat’s ongoing plan to expand its total capacity across the Middle East through the launch of a third satellite. The operator is currently looking at various sources of funding for the launch and says it will decide whether to go ahead by the end of this year. “We are studying funding it through existing shareholders, new investors, or whether we will rely on our own money. We have some loans from the banks,” explains Hamza. According to the operator, the additional satellite will be used to grow its business vertically rather than to expand its existing coverage area. It currently carries almost 200 TV channels, including those of pay-TV operators, ART and Showtime, as well as providing internet connectivity. According to Hamza, it is also in talks with new channels in Saudi Arabia. “We have sold almost all of the capacity that we have,” he adds. Observers suggest that the move would also help Nilesat avoid a possible acquisition attempt by a larger player. “Nilesat has been good at filling the satellites it has. But it has got to get bigger if it’s going to survive,” says Roger Stanyard, a consultant at satellite industry research provider, Interspace. Nilesat has also not ruled out the option to partner with rival operator, Arabsat, on the new spacecraft’s launch. “We are studying all the alternatives,” says Hamza. “We are always sharing views on the market. We don’t disclose secrets to each other but we are looking at more steps [to cooperate] in the future,” he adds.

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