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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Hamad Al-Mannai, Vice President - Commercial at Es'hailSat, discussed Qatar Satellite Company's work and highlighted the company’s strategy to expand services locally and regionally for ensuring the best customer experience. He also discussed the most significant challenges facing the region as a whole.

While supporting various broadcasts with its direct-to-home offering, how will Es'hailSat expand its core business activities in Qatar, the Arab region and the Gulf to provide broader communications services? Besides ongoing communication satellite development and deployment, what services is Es'hailSat envisioning to meet customers’ demands?

For our business, the priority over the next 12 months is to expand our services to support the rapid growth of Qatari customers across the board. In addition, our fleet of two satellites, Es’hail-1 and Es’hail-2 at 25.5/26 East hotspot is bolstered by an expansion of services delivered from our Teleport in Doha. Our teleport enables us to adopt the latest advancements in international technology, such as Cloud Playout services, Mobility networks and others. For us, the video sector remains a key vertical; however, we see opportunities within the mobility sector that are certainly on an upward trend. We also see new growth markets in these sectors that we intend to enter, beyond our current core region of MENA. One such example is that of Es’hailSat’s enhanced VSAT support services in the Maritime segment, catering to the communications infrastructure required for vessels at sea.

Are any key partnerships or agreements on the horizon for Es'hailSat? If so, how will these impact the experience of your customers?

We have multiple partnerships, such as those with BridgeComm for optical ground station, terminal and antenna, and with technology providers, such as iDirect, Comtech etc., for enhancing our end-to-end service provisioning, etc. At this point, the global satellite industry is in a state of flux, with multiple low-Earth orbit constellations at various stages of their launch, each looking to provide global broadband connectivity. We are studying each of these projects closely and evaluating all possible options to enhance our future capabilities as a satellite operator. As Qatar’s satellite operator of choice, we bring tremendous value to any partnership and can provide the local and regional expertise that these global companies need to build a sustainable business in the region.

Are there any notable challenges you face in controlling lunar capacities (capacity management), satellites and/or piracy? How does Es'hailSat address these?

Piracy, as it relates to content protection, is still a concern for the region. Although the majority of the large piracy incidents have been addressed and discontinued, there is still rampant online piracy of content. As a satellite operator, by enhancing our monitoring and anti-jamming capabilities, we can offer content owners the assurance that their media properties are in safe hands from a distribution perspective. We continue to support numerous organizations that are trying to combat piracy issues across the region and remain committed to this cause.

Growth may not be as strong as it was pre-pandemic; however, we do not believe the video market is declining in MENA. We are not just a satellite operator but also a service provider, and we see opportunities where we can support our existing or new customers with value-added services within this sector through partnerships and vertical integration.

Then there are always price pressures when it comes to satellite capacity, services, and equipment. This has come to the forefront in the last few months, with supply chain issues causing delivery delays and further delaying implementation, service rollout, etc.

Qatar Satellite Company has achieved significant growth in recent years. What is the strategy for maintaining or surpassing this growth at all levels?

We are very much a GEO operator and will continue to support our broadcast, telecommunications and government customers with our two satellites in GEO orbit. At Es’hailSat, we are firm believers in the fact that Internet connectivity is now as basic a need as electricity or water supply. Wherever terrestrial connectivity options stop is where the role of satellite technologies begins, and that is where Es’hailSat’s services come in. Be it cellular backhaul, VSAT networking or even consumer broadband, we have the capabilities to support those companies that are looking to provide these services across the Middle East and North Africa today and across the globe very soon. We are also working on incorporating into our portfolio the latest advancements in technology, including Cloud services, Mobility and Telecommunications services, OTT and Content Delivery Networks (CDN).

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