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“Afghanistan is ready for some quality broadband”

Dominique Audion, managing director of Dubai-based Safa Telecom, speaks to SatellitePro ME about the imminent launch of YahClick in Afghanistan.
Dominique Audion, managing director, Safa Telecom

Dominique Audion, managing director of Dubai-based Safa Telecom is optimistic that his premium offer of YahClick services will find ready resonance among corporate clients in Afghanistan ranging from banks, hotels, security companies, NGOs and UN organisations, among others.

The system is good as our tests reveal, but it is new and we will have to see how it performs on the ground in Afghanistan. It is a learning process for us and Yahsat

“From the antennas of 98 cms and above to cables and modems, our offer will cover premium solutions. In addition we will be providing the corporate bandwidth of 10Mbps and 15Mbps as offered by YahClick,” says Audion in an interview with SatellitePro ME in his Dubai-based office.

With existing Telcos not enjoying a high degree of trust among consumers in Afghanistan owing to unreliability of service, Audion is mindful of the trust deficit his brand will have to overcome.

“We have to ensure a high degree of service to create a sense of confidence among consumers. It is a new brand and establishing reputation is of primary importance.”

The insufficient spread of fibre is a key driver for consumer broadband solutions such as YahClick.

While not an exclusive partner for the Abu-Dhabi based provider, Audion and his team at Safa Telcom believe they have a few advantages.

“We are the only providers in Afghanistan that can offer the YahClick service outside the country and across the region. This would serve regional clients well. Moreover we have a joint venture with our local partner, a provider of private education services that also has extensive experience in providing IT-based solutions. With their local knowledge and our Telco and MSS experience, we believe we are positioned well to launch this service in Afghanistan.”

No stranger to the Afghan capital, Dominique is poised to launch the service within a month.

“We have the licence and the joint venture is called Safa Telecom. In the Kabul office, we have appointed a manager and we are putting together a team of installers. We’ve found a good pool of local technical talent when it comes to VSAT installation. The first batch of YahClick terminals are being shipped as I speak.”

The installation of Ka-band antennas for YahClick has reportedly been simplified by Hughes allowing the installer to monitor the installation on his laptop without the need to be connected to a gateway as in the case of Ku or C-band antennas.

Audion won’t commit to a goal in terms of clients, insisting that quality of service and cementing their reputation with a range of corporate clients is critical.

“Our USP will not just be the reliability of service but the value-added elements including services from Thuraya and Inmarsat, if required.”

And while consumer broadband is a new area for the company, he believes the challenges can be overcome easily.

“For instance, billing for MSS services is far more complicated. In addition, we have a Dubai-based help desk to support our local presence in Kabul ensuring that regional clients are offered flexibility in terms of service.”

The testing of the hardware and bandwidth was going according to plan in the office in Dubai, revealed Audion. With the harsh Kabul winter looming, Audion is relishing the prospect of testing the equipment on the ground.

“The system is good as our tests reveal, but it is new and we will have to see how it performs on the ground in Afghanistan. It is a learning process for us and Yahsat. For me personally, it is not about numbers but working with clients towards not just meeting his present needs but his future operational requirements and explaining to him both the capabilities and limitations of the system.”

At SatellitePro ME, we plan to hunker down for the long haul and follow Dominique Audion and Safa Telecom as they move into uncharted territories.