Noorsat gears up for increasing demand for satellite television broadcasting in the Middle East
Noorsat, the newest entrant to the Middle East satellite communications sector, predicts the number of television channels broadcasting to the Middle East region to double in the next five years.
The bullish outlook follows Noorsat’s agreement to use the capacity of two Eutelsat satellites which will be practically co-located at the Middle Eastern hotspots of 7 degrees West and 26 degrees East.
Noorsat CEO Omar Shoter, commented: “I expect demand for satellite bandwidth to grow exponentially over the next two to five years with demand being driven by television broadcasters.
“There will also be increased demand from ISPs (Internet Service Providers), telecom operators and data companies, although non-video growth will only account for around 20 per cent of satellite bandwidth capacity.”
Shoter claims that Noorsat’s market entry will re-energize the regional television marketplace by providing much needed satellite capacity at discount rates.
Currently there are almost 300 channels broadcasting over the Middle East. “Normally, channels make a satellite decision based on price and quality of service,” says Shoter. “If the quality of service is as good, or better, than that currently available and the price is more competitive, and the viewer doesn’t have to turn his satellite dish, then that is a compelling proposition for broadcasters.
“Building the platform around the hot spot locations covering the Arab world and neighbouring countries means that public and private TV broadcasters have immediate access to all existing satellite TV dishes in the region without the need for viewers to re-align dishes or add any equipment.”
The agreement with European satellite operator Eutelsat gives Noorsat capacity on Eutelsat’s EUROBIRD 2 satellite at 25.5 degrees East and also on HotBird 4 which Eutelsat plans to move to the 7 degrees West location in 2006. These two positions are in the same neighbourhood as the two Middle Eastern hotspots of ArabSat and NileSat, opening exciting opportunities for the expansion of digital entertainment services in the Middle East.
Shoter believes many potential broadcasters are currently finding it difficult to get on-air because of the high cost of satellite transmission. He said: “In terms of capacity we can broadcast hundreds of channels, and we are aiming at taking 30 per cent of the market, drawn between existing channels and new entrants to the market.”
Arabic and ethnic hotspot for Europe
A key part of the Noorsat strategy is to create an Arabic and ethnic hotspot for Europe by leasing capacity on the Eutelsat AB2 craft at 8 degrees West.
AB2 is a powerful satellite that will allow reception of transmitted television programmes in all of Europe using very small dishes. Noorsat believes that this will become the satellite position of choice to provide indigenous content to the large Arab and ethnic communities in Europe.
Two state-of-the art uplink facilities have been established in Bahrain and Greece to ensure service integrity and quality. More uplink facilities will be established in other Arab countries to meet customer demand.
Headquartered in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, Noorsat is the first totally privately owned Arab satellite communications company. Its Arab investors from the Gulf have been active in the media and telecommunications sectors in the region for many years.
Noorsat’s management and marketing head offices are in Amman, Jordan, and the platform is currently being licensed as a satellite operator in Saudi Arabia.
Noorsat has declared its intention to offer satellite television, telecommunication and ISP customers a shareholding opportunity in the form of private equity and a role in the management of the company’s affairs in anticipation of Noorsat’s plan to go for a public IPO within the coming two years.