Ethiopia Jams Arabsat Signals

Lebanese minister visiting Arabsat ground station

Preliminary investigations into the jamming of Arabsat satellite transmission shows that it is originating from Ethiopia, Lebannon’s Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Wednesday, calling on Arabsat’s operator to secure new frequencies for its transmission in Lebanon.

“Arabsat told us that the source of the jamming is Ethiopia and it handed us a copy of their complaint they have passed to Ethiopian authorities on this matter,” said Sehnaoui.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a local satellite station in Mount Lebanon’s Jouret al-Balout, Sehnaoui said that the political atmosphere in the region is likely to be behind the jamming of certain satellite operators.

“The political atmosphere in the region could push some countries to take such a step and start jamming on some operators,” Sehnaoui said.

Several Lebanese channels and the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera have been jammed in the past year, and the frequencies of Arabsat and Nilesat network providers have been jammed since the pro-democracy uprisings and ensuing unrest in Libya and Egypt.

“There needs to be a permanent solution to this jamming problem,” said Sehnaoui, adding that contacts are ongoing with the administration of Arabsat to assign a new frequency for their transmission in Lebanon.

“Lebanon should be a [safe haven] for the re-broadcasting of satellite networks,” Sehnaoui added.

Sehnaoui, who was accompanied by members of the ministry’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority, said the installation of the fiber optics network in Lebanon would greatly improve the telecoms network in the country.

“The installation of the fiber optics network will end in October, and it will help in the development of this sector,” said Sehnaoui.

But he reiterated the need to cooperate with Arabsat and Nilesat in providing new frequencies to re-broadcast their channels. “Satellite networks should take the initiative to ensure new frequencies for the Lebanese channels because the jamming might be related to the political problems the region is going through.”