Sky's the limit

The Middle East region is unique in terms of the obstacles facing communications. These challenges make satellite services an emerging segment of importance. NME finds out just how these services are gaining a foothold in the region.

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By  Sean Robson Published  October 26, 2008

The Middle East region is unique in terms of the obstacles facing communications. These challenges make satellite services an emerging segment of importance. NME finds out just how these services are gaining a foothold in the region.

In a region as diverse and widespread as the Middle East, enterprises are faced with issues of space and distance. Satellite systems can prove invaluable in the management and delivery of applications and solutions across these distances.

Satellite services are particularly useful in the Middle East given the geography and the lack of fixed line services across wide swathes of the region.

There is no doubt in my mind that while the market for this service is nascent at the moment that it will take off in a big way over the next 12 to 18 months.

A satellite is able to offer clear communications and the delivery of applications no matter where a site is located, making it a viable option for enterprises and service providers.

"We rely on satellite communication modes when there are no other modes of communication available. There were previously remote site offices where we used satellite services, but as of now we are no longer using them.

This, however could very well change if we once again operated a really remote site," says Surendran Pariyanghat, IT manager at Al Shafar General Contracting.

Many oil and gas companies, like Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), which is one of the region's leading exploration and production companies, accounting for nearly 90% of Oman's crude oil production, operate in remote sites for drilling and exploration.

This sometimes leaves them with no terrestrial communication systems. In such cases, satellite services provide a valuable means of connection, communication and assistance in fulfilling the company's business critical functions.

"We use satellite services for two purposes, the first is emergency communication. We have three vehicles equipped with V-Sat communication, and we are able to use these on rotation whenever needed. It automatically detects the satellite and its services including voice, video and data," says Ali Al Lawati, head of IT infrastructure development at PDO.

"The second purpose is in the case of any of our locations that do not have wireless systems coverage. So whenever we are operating outside the covered area we use the satellite communications in a similar manner," says Al Lawati.

In much the same way as enterprises in the region do, telecom operators make use of satellite services in order to supply their users with more comprehensive network coverage.

In circumstances where no terrestrial network is available, the telecoms operator is able to provide roaming facilities thanks to the use of satellite systems. Service providers are also able to use satellite systems in setting up global positioning services for their clients as well as fax, voice and data services.

Through the use of satellite systems, both enterprises and telecoms providers have access to internet services regardless of location. These services are further enhanced by a significant reduction in downtime.

Apart from the above, satellites provide enterprises the capability to set up virtual private networks (VPN), which connect multiple locations and deliver information seamlessly.

Satellite advantage

It's easy to set up a virtual private network connecting multiple locations, and ensuring information flow is seamless and reliable.

Telecoms operators are able to offer more comprehensive network coverage. Internet services can be made available regardless of location. There is also a significant reduction in downtime throughout the coverage area.

Emergency services are made possible in times of natural disasters or accidents.

Broadcasters are able to leverage satellite solutions in order to offer high definition television.

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