From government to farming,YahClick gains traction

by Staff Reporter | April 28th, 2013

Shawkat Ahmed, CCO, YahSat

With the second satellite in space and the YahClick broadband service launched commercially in the beginning of January 2013, solutions providers from Yemen, South Africa, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East, are jockeying for rights to sell the consumer broadband solution in their respective regions.

Shawkat Ahmed, CCO, YahSat, gave us a quick update on the rollout of YahClick.

Projects in Afghanistan and Nigeria

“We are working on school projects in Afghanistan and Lagos – a few hundred sites initially but once they are happy with the performance, we are talking of a few thousand sites. Because of so much demand coming for special projects, we have set up a special projects management division to make sure that the implementation is as per the plan. We are seeing demand for similar projects in other countries such as Iraq.

“Earlier, governments in developing countries found the cost of ownership and the recurring monthly cost unaffordable. For the first time they have a feasible solution where, in many cases, they can start from USD 50 per site. On our part, we treat these projects very carefully because they will change the social fabric in these societies.

For the first time you have the possibility of connecting the remote areas in Afghanistan and other places with a product that sells for USD 400 to 500 and service plans starting from USD 20 per month.

Farmers in South Africa and hype around rain fade

“In South Africa, we have more than 1,000 farmers outside Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria, using our services. Every week a few hundred sites are added to our dashboard. Our service providers are bundling the service with Voip and, so far, overall orders for 30,000 units have been received.

“Regarding rain, the Hughes terminals have been selling in the US for the past seven to eight years. And Hughes sells 15,000 units a week. While you might suffer some degradation of service in heavy rain, it is not a major issue because of the Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) technology. In South Africa, where we did our analysis recently, the results were 100% in terms of quality of service. Similarly in Afghanistan. The take-up is improving because many of the IT managers have tested it and they have found it better than the alternatives. The availability we are committing to is 99.5%. The best broadband network in Iraq would offer availability between 85 to 90% uptime. At the same time, in all of those markets, the issue of delivery to those subscribers is through mobile broadband using 3G technology. So you would have congestion issues.

“With YahClick, a 1Mbps service is available for USD35-40 and a 10Mbps service for USD100, depending on VAT and other costs. These figures are unheard of in these countries. For the first time you have 15 to 18Mbps in terms of service. In April, we should be launching in Yemen and in East Africa, which includes Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Ethiopia. We will then be launching in Pakistan and the remaining markets – 28 in all – by the end of 2013.”

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