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Telcos and satellite operators can benefit from new forms of content such as mobile TV and HDTV.

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By  Administrator Published  April 11, 2008

Telcos and satellite operators can benefit from new forms of content such as mobile TV and HDTV.

It was more than 60 years ago that Arthur C Clarke, the late British scientist, popularised the idea of satellites in geo-stationary orbit revolutionising global communications.

And some 45 years after the launch of the world's first satellite back in 1964, growth and development of the satellite communications sector is showing few signs of abating.

The Middle East and North Africa is certainly no exception - a fact that is amply proven by the success of the 14th edition of Cabsat in March, an annual exhibition for the region's eletronic media and satellite communications industry.

The event, which took place in Dubai, attracted heavyweight players involved in the satellite industry from the MENA region and beyond. And Among the regional companies to flex their muscles at the event was Arabsat, a provider of satellite communications in the MENA region.

The company had much to talk about at the event, not least the launch of a new satellite to replace another that was lost three years ago during launch. The new satellite, which will be launched from French Guiana in June, will be used for broadcast, internet and voice services for Arab countries.

Arabsat, which works with ISPs as well as broadcasters including Al Jazeera, MBC and Rotana, currently has three satellites in orbit, and leases one more. The company also has ambitious plans to expand its operations by launching more satellites.

Khalid Balkheyour, president and CEO of Arabsat, expects to see continued strong demand for satellite capacity, driven by telecom and data services, and to a lesser extent, broadcast. "In the short term it's going to be telecom, meaning voice, broadband and interactive TV.

According to the latest results, we expect growth in broadcasting of about 3-4% however we also see a lot of opportunities in the telecom and broadband sectors especially from Africa and the Middle East. There is good growth there that is coming up in the region," he says.

For many companies that lack a presence in the Middle East, Cabsat also offered a gateway into the region. One such company is Temix, an Italian communications engineering company that produces technology for broadcast operators, as well as wireless applications and emergency and disaster recover solutions.

Indeed, Armando Caravella, founder, general manager and member of the technical board at Temix, sees much potential in the region.

"We strongly believe in the upcoming growth potential of the MENA region and the launch of our website in Arabic is a clear sign of our commitment to the region," he says.

We have global coverage through our partner in the Far East, with distributors in Hong Kong and India. In the Middle East,we have distributors in the UAE, and in Africa we have agents in Nigeria and North Africa," he said.

For Caravella, the rapid growth of the MENA region's satellite sector is partly due to liberalisation, which has paved the way for the launch of more and more free-to-air TV and radio stations.

"This situation is creating a demand for multimedia delivery services and our satellite and wireless solutions are developed to satisfy these needs," he says.

Satellite broadcasting has evolved into one of the most popular ways to distribute content, from TV to mobile services, according to Joost Verbrugge, market development director, Newtec.

"Once the signal is on the satellite, it can be received at any point within the footprint. Satellite delay might be seen as an issue, but actually it is constant, in contrast with the variable latency that other networks have," Verbrugge explains.

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