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Yahsat sets timeframe for satellite ops

Abu Dhabi satellite operator to offer internet and TV services via two satellites

Al Yah Satellite Communications (Yahsat), a UAE-based satellite operator, is planning to launch two satellites by 2011 in a bid to provide commercial and government services across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Southwest Asia.

UAE-based Yahsat, which is owned by Mubadala Development Company, signed a letter of intent with Arianespace in January, to launch its first satellite in 2010. More recently, it signed an agreement US-based International Launch Services (ILS) and Thales Alenia Space of France to launch its second satellite in the first half of 2011.

Yahsat entered into a supply contract with EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space in August 2007, to develop a fully integrated satellite system worth $1.7 billion. Yahsat intends to provide Internet services via satellite, wide area networks and television transmission services, in particular for high-definition television (HDTV), following the launch of its satellites.

"Yahsat considers the rollout of the Yahsat satellite program to be an essential role in the delivery of the latest in satellite broadcast and connectivity solutions to the Middle East, Africa and southwest Asia," said Jassem Mohamed Al Zaabi, CEO of Yahsat.

Frank McKenna, president of ILS, added: "Our partnership with Proton will enable us to launch Yahsat satellite mission as per our plan and establish Yahsat as the satellite operator of choice in the region. We're pleased to have been selected to play an important role in establishing Yahsat's business in the Middle East region, which is an exciting growth area for satellite communications."