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İnterview to Satellite Evolution EMEA

Satellite Evolution EMEA

Rashad Nabiyev was appointed as the Chairman & CEO of Azercosmos (Open Joint Stock Co) in January 2011. As overall manager of the company he has overseen the launch of a new satellite, Azerspace-1, at 46°East which provides substantial Ku-band and C-band capacity for Central Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa and put together the engineering, operations and sales teams to bring the satellite to market. Recently celebrating its first year in commercial operation, Azerspace-1 is already home to a substantial bouquet of local broadcast programming. The company promises to be a significant satellite operator in the coming years.

Nabiyev holds MS in Economics from Eastern Carolina University, USA, and a bachelor and master degrees in Public Administration from Public Administration Academy under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He continued his education at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he completed the program for Senior Executives in Public Financial Management in 2006.

Satellite Evolution asked him more about the new satellite and operation:

Question: Can you tell us more about the company and its background?

Rashad Nabiyev: Azercosmos Open Joint Stock Company (OJSCo) is a Caucasian premier satellite operator established on 3 May 2010. The Company positions itself mainly as the operator that is directed to satisfy customer requirements in the broadcast, enterprise, oil & gas and defence sectors.  Azercosmos is a fully state-owned company with the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies as its single shareholder.

The company came together when the government took the decision to provide connectivity and information security in Azerbaijan. This decision resulted from the state policy on diversification of economy and prioritization of ICTs as the second main sector of economy after the Oil & Gas industry. It was also an effort to contribute to bridging the global divide.

We came to an agreement with Measat Satellite Systems, the leading satellite operator in Malaysia, to lease the GEO position at 46°East orbital slot and jointly operate the Azerspace/Africasat 1A satellite.

Question: Which regions does the company serve?

Rashad Nabiyev: The satellite plays a key role in connecting over 50 countries in Central Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. With substantial C-band capacity over the entire African Continent, Central Asia and Europe and significant Ku-band capacity over Europe and Central Asia, Azercosmos is set to play an important role in the development of satellite connectivity throughout the region.

Question: Can you tell us more about the vertical markets that the company is involved with?

Rashad Nabiyev: In our first year of operation, we have been able to establish a regional bouquet of TV channels, which is really just the beginning. Azerspace-1 is ideally placed to provide extensive cable head end contribution and one of our tasks this coming year will be to really address that market. We already have a substantial occasional use customer base for news and special events. This continues to build as our sales and marketing efforts attract new customers – supported of course, by top quality operations and engineering departments.

Question: Does the company own any satellite assets and are there further plans to add to those?

Rashad Nabiyev: Having established our position in the regional market over our first year of operation, we already have plans for further satellites to develop a fleet of satellites for the future. We are examining, in detail, the best topologies and technologies as well as geographic coverage areas for maximum impact in the global market. We intend to be a major player in this arena! Information on that growth will be available at the appropriate time.

Question: Do you plan to expand your offering to new market sectors and regions?

Rashad Nabiyev: Our markets – and our customers – are very clear. We will work with the broadcasting sector for contribution, distribution and occasional use, and provide the backbone to support teleport operators to enable them to address the oil & gas, enterprise and defence markets and we will of course be mindful of all the technologies that will enable our customers to maximise their bit/MHz ratios and facilitate their penetration into those very price sensitive markets; whether that’s modulation of higher grade modcods or application of adaptive coding techniques. We will also work with equipment manufacturers to the same end.

Question: What differentiates the company from the competition?

Rashad Nabiyev: Well, we are new. The new kid on the block; if you like? And if I’m asked to express it in one word then it’s flexibility. We have a young and energetic sales team, supported by world-class engineering and operations teams. We are flexible and swift – our customers appreciate that – and we have a real hunger to become an important player as quickly as possible. With high-powered connectivity over some of the world’s fastest developing countries and communities, we’re well placed to develop together!

Question: What opportunities do you see for the future?

Rashad Nabiyev: Every year you will hear at some conference or other, that satellite is dead. It just isn’t true. Of course there is an increase in fibre connectivity, I accept that, but it still isn’t getting into the heart of the mainland in many countries or continents (Africa is a good example). All of the sectors we are interested to work with demand new ways and techniques to manage their communications budgets and we’re very keen to be there to help them to do just that. We see new technology, new approaches (4K UHDTV for example), which still needs copious amounts of satellite space segment. Every year brings new ideas and new ways to use the frequencies.

Question: Where would you like the company to be this time next year?

Rashad Nabiyev:Azercosmos may be a little known name in the industry this year… but by next IBC I hope everyone will know it well and our business will reach new horizons!