Home >> December 2008 Edition >> Thuraya
by Reham Barakat, Media Relations Officer

2008: With leadership for years in the world’s mobile satellite handhelds market, Thuraya has made distinguished and high-prospect marks in new lucrative satcom sectors such as satellite broadband and maritime during this year.

The Asia Pacific region has a large maritime industry due to the large expanses of waterways and the presence of the world’s largest ship building sector which depend on satellite communications to stay in touch with the world. Thuraya’s strategic expansion into Asia Pacific represents the Company’s vision and prevalence in the MSS industry. The Company announced its commercial readiness to serve the Asia Pacific region on June 9th and has accordingly signed up agreements with several distributors in the region. With Service Providers having joined Thuraya’s extensive distribution network from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia, the Company now has the potential to serve important sectors in the region that can benefit from advanced satellite communication solutions.

ThurayaMarine is a user-friendly, affordable, and compact device, designed for use by a variety of sea farers ranging from freight ships to fishing boats. ThurayaMarine supports voice, data and fax communication facilities so that crew and passengers onboard vessels can communicate with those on shore with an uninterrupted signal. With a marine grade omni-directional antenna, the product can function in any weather circumstance and is flexible enough to endure any rigorous movements of the ship. Moreover, ThurayaMarine’s GPS system permits the locating of vessels at any given point in time, and eases the tracking of ships for owners which is beneficial for the transport industry that amounts for the bulk of the maritime world.

Thuraya has a vast coverage of several waterways that span the Gulf, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and part of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, as well as international waters in most of the Asia-Pacific, making ThurayaMarine an ideal solution that couples coverage with technological superiority. In addition, to cater to the needs of the high-speed broadband maritime sector, Thuraya will be launching ThurayaIP with a maritime antenna early next year to complement the increased demand for data transfer that is dominating the maritime and MSS world.

Similar to ThurayaIP, the new maritime solution has attracted a lot of interest from distributors throughout Thuraya’s coverage area and over ten agreements have been signed for the distribution of the product throughout Thuraya’s vast coverage area.

The Company also launched its third geo-synchronous satellite (Thuraya-3) so early in 2008, allowing it to strategically expand its system coverage in Asia-Pacific. The move meant the doubling of potential customers under the Thuraya system from 2.5 to more than 4 billion people. More importantly, it has created a huge potential for Thuraya to serve a large maritime sector that extends all the way from Iceland in the Atlantic Ocean to Australia in the Indian Ocean, covering two-thirds of the globe, more than 140 countries, and provides its adaptable technology in the lucrative and key markets of the Asia Pacific rim.

With this new satellite, Thuraya now serves an area that has the world’s largest markets in terms of population size and communication needs. The Asia Pacific region houses countries such as India, China and Australia that provide a huge customer base hence an endless pool of opportunity for Thuraya to provide its exclusive technology.

ThurayaIP is the latest high speed broadband product that is unique in its compact A-5 size and speed that functions at 444 Kbps. It also has a superior video-streaming capacity that streams at a rate of 384 Kbps ensuring that users have access to brilliant video data. The product caters to the media, oil and gas, government and NGO sectors and is most attractive for use in remote areas where there are no terrestrial networks. The introduction of a competitive broadband solution by Thuraya will enhance the Company’s standing in the sector, as well as in the MSS industry since ThurayaIP is the leader of its data category.

Since the launch of ThurayaIP, there has been an avid demand for the product and more than eight commercial agreements have been signed with a series of distributors and Service Providers for the innovative solution. Such a wide distribution network will ensure that users have rapid and easy access to the product all across Thuraya’s wide coverage area.

Through a partnership with Quicklink, the U.K. based solutions provider, Thuraya has facilitated the transmission and delivery of extremely low latency, real-time broadcast video to users of the ThurayaIP service. The upgrade will benefit the media, government and NGO sectors that are in need of instantaneous video transmission in areas where there are no networks. Since Thuraya’s network allows any number of users to access ThurayaIP, users of the new solution will always have contact with the network without having to wait for bandwidth. Other advantages of this fine-tuned solution are high compression and forward error correction making it the perfect tool for segments that wish to relay data on the spot such as live news broadcasts.

In addition, the Company partnered with several application developers to augment ThurayaIP to develop Thuraya’s position in the broadband sector by creating the most advanced broadband solution. Furthermore, Thuraya has introduced new services for its leading handheld telephones, such as a location-based service, ThurayaLocate and access to a WAP-enabled portal. Having always been the market leader in handheld telephones in the satellite communication world, Thuraya has now paved the way to lead in both data and maritime communications, making Thuraya a complete and versatile package for anyone in need of satellite communications.

Thuraya has also continued focus on its customer-centric strategy by enhancing its billing system, launching a new Call Centre and introducing new recharging methods for pre-paid handheld users such as the E-Voucher and ThurayaRecharge. Both methods streamline the recharging process for the Company’s customers. Working continuously, Thuraya has several services in the pipelines, such as Netted Communications and a Leasing Service for ThurayaIP, all designed to elaborately take the Company forward into 2009 as the world’s leading MSS operator.

Thuraya, in unison with Speakerbus, is currently developing “Netted Communications,” a service that will be available in the very near future that allows a variety of users to access voice capabilities while using ThurayaIP. Users of Thuraya handsets and handheld radios can all communicate with each other, especially during emergency situations through ThurayaIP.

Also in the pipelines is the development of two antennas for Thuraya IP, for fixed and mobile uses. Achieved through an agreement with European Antennas, the fixed application antenna is designed specifically for ensuring a very high quality streaming capability and the antenna for the mobile user is one of the smallest antennas in the MSS market and is ideal for enhancing the communication performance and battery power. The antennas will re-enforce ThurayaIP’s capacity as the most competitive broadband solution within its category since its quality and reliability will be incomparable.

The enhancement of ThurayaIP will amplify its position in the broadband market and will broaden its uses as well as enlarge Thuraya’s standing in the satellite communication arena. It will also strengthen Thuraya’s partnerships with a variety of application developers who will provide future solutions for the Company.

Another convenient service that was introduced this year by Thuraya, in conjunction with Geonix, is a location-based service that allows anyone with a Thuraya handset to view their position on maps, satellite images, and aerial photography, anywhere in the world. Once the position has been determined it can be shared with friends, family, employer or rescue agency free of charge. A useful service for those in rugged areas and in emergency situations, ThurayaLocate is another one of Thuraya’s value added services created to ease the lives of its customers and guarantee their safety.

To further boost the Thuraya handset experience, Thuraya and Info2cell have initiated a WAP portal that can be viewed on Thuraya’s SG-2520, otherwise known as the world’s smartest satellite phone. The first of its kind in the satellite communication world, access to a WAP enabled handset will make the Thuraya experience more dynamic and interactive and will allow users to access industry specific news, as well as fun applications normally found in GSM phones. Thuraya’s SG-2520 handset is GSM compatible and by being WAP enabled it dissolves the boundaries between satellite and GSM experiences of communication.

Recently launched by the Company is ThurayaRecharge, a service that assists pre-paid Thuraya handheld users to recharge their credit wherever they may be located and when out of credit. Designed to allow subscribers to top up their credit by phone or online while using their personal credit card, ThurayaRecharge eliminates the lengthy logistical process of having to find a scratch card or E-Voucher or having to contact a Service Provider. The service was developed by FoneRecharge, a specialised Australian vendor of Thuraya air-time.

In continuation of its customer-centric strategy, Thuraya during the year also launched a new billing system that provides more flexibility and efficiency. The upgraded billing system combines both prepaid and postpaid customers in one unified interface, speeding up the billing process for Thuraya and its Service Providers. Constructed by LHS, the new billing system expedites the provision of customised bills that incorporate all tariffs, discounts and specific rate schemes which is of vast importance for users of satellite communications, especially those on the go who roam between countries who have differing tariff rates.

Other customer-service based improvements was the inauguration of a state-of-the-art Call Centre based on an IVR system and supported by a team of multi-cultural staff to cater to the needs of Thuraya’s diverse customer base. Additionally, an E-Voucher system was developed which is an electronic means of recharging prepaid subscribers’ accounts which will streamline recharging procedures for subscribers reducing the need for physical scratch cards.

2009: In the future, Thuraya plans on further rolling out in the Asia Pacific region and catering to all the needs demanded by the customers based in that region. By focusing on acquiring new Service Providers, the Company aims to penetrate core sectors with its already diverse solutions, as well as by introducing new services in 2009. Thuraya also plans on leaving its mark in the Asia maritime market that accounts for a large portion of satellite telecommunications because of the large numbers of waterways in the region.

The Company also aims to focus on the data and maritime sectors through its newly launched products, ThurayaIP and ThurayaMarine to achieve strong market positioning. Thuraya is the market leader in handheld telephony having pioneered the smallest and the smartest satellite phones, and now provides an extremely advanced communications package that reaches voice, data and maritime solutions.

What’s more, during the first quarter of 2009, Thuraya will be initiating a Leasing Service based on the ThurayaIP streaming service. What this will entail is the sale of chunks of bandwidth in multiples of 64 Kbps, where more than one ThurayaIP terminal can be used. The minimum bandwidth will be 16 Kbps and the maximum is 384 Kbps. Users of this service will be guaranteed throughput at a fixed cost, twenty four hours a day, all year round. The Leasing Service will be distributed by a select number of distributors who will be able to provide constant Customer Care for the service.

Thuraya will continue to work on developing products and services throughout 2009, establishing itself as one of the world’s leading satellite communications provider that is dynamic, innovative and an ideal partner for communication needs especially in areas where there are no terrestrial networks or coverage. Thuraya at present provides superior technology that caters to a plethora of sectors that are dependent on MSS services and will continue penetrating new core corporate segments to ensure that its services are available to even more customers. Thuraya’s customers will always come first to the Company and it aims to consistently improve its service to better suit their communication needs. By continually expanding its distribution network and portfolio of services Thuraya will remain at the forefront of satellite communications and remain a brand that is known for its quality and variety of service.

About the company
Thuraya provides cost-effective mobile satellite services in more than 140 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Services provided by Thuraya include mobile voice that support dual GSM and satellite mode, broadband, maritime, rural telephony, fleet management and other advanced applications that enable people and businesses everywhere under its coverage to enjoy constant access to communications and information. Thuraya enhances sectors such as oil and gas, mining, agriculture, NGOs and maritime services through its cutting edge technology. Thuraya was founded in 1997 by a consortium of leading national telecommunications operators and reputed investment firms from the region.