United Arab Emirates based satellite operator Yahsat’s and Hughes Network Services,  a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation, have agreed to enter into a joint venture to provide commercial Ka-band satellite broadband services across Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia.

This new venture combines Hughes’s expertise as a key global provider of broadband satellite networks and services with Yahsat’s position and knowledge as a satellite broadband specialist across these regions.

The JV, under which Hughes will purchase a minority interest, will will continue to provide unserved and underserved communities with high-speed Internet services operating over Yahsat’s Al Yah 2 (AY2) and Al Yah 3 (AY3) Ka-band satellites, and leveraging the capabilities of the Hughes JUPITER System, designed and optimized for large scale High-Throughput Satellites (HTS).

Initially, the venture will focus on ‘direct-to-premise services’ to homes and small- to medium-sized enterprises, and to community centers and schools that are served under local government programs across these regions.

Along with that, there will be an increased focus on ‘community hotspot’ services to make satellite-enabled broadband more accessible to many more users across the AY2 and AY3 footprint, which currently covers some 1 billion people.

And, the venture will also aim to capitalize on the accelerating transition towards Ka-band based backhaul and carrier offerings from mobile network operators

Hughes president Pradman Kaul said Yahsat had been a valued customer for many years, incorporating the JUPITER System and operating expertise into its services.

“This next step in our relationship is a natural evolution that builds on our shared commitment to connecting the unconnected and reflects our strategy to partner with leading providers around the world,” Kaul said. “Our investment in this venture will expand our presence in Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia markets, where broadband demand is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, and is expected to occur later this year.