Jenan breaks the big news stories first with the help of her Thuraya satphone

As a roving reporter covering the Syrian conflict and other major stories for Al Aan TV, Jenan Moussa has to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Her work bag, which she keeps packed at all times, contains two essential items of kit: her camera and her Thuraya satellite phone.

“You could have the greatest story in the world but it is useless if you can’t get it out there,” said Jenan. “I carry a Thuraya SatSleeve+ because I need to be able to report from any location at any time.” For Jenan “any location” means exactly that: a rebel camp; a roadside in no-man’s land; a basement in the middle of a barrel-bomb attack.

The last of these was in 2012 in the town of Jarjanaz, about 40 miles south-west of Aleppo. A rebel group told Jenan it was safe to go into the town to conduct interviews, but soon after she arrived a heavy bombardment began.

“Everybody ran for cover and the people I was with took shelter in a bombed-out basement. It was terrifying because the whole building was shaking and there were people screaming and shouting, including a lot of children. Despite all this chaos, I was able to use my Thuraya satphone to Tweet throughout the attack and tell the outside world what was going on.”

Jenan has been a Thuraya user since covering the anti-Gaddafi uprising in Libya in 2011. It was then she realized she needed a satphone to report the news as it happened, to keep in contact with her studio in Dubai and to phone home to reassure family and friends. Working in countries where the infrastructure may be devastated by conflict, she cannot rely on terrestrial phone networks. A mobile satellite link is the only guaranteed way to stay in touch.

Her Thuraya satphone gives her a real edge in the race to report the news first. Soon after she got it, other journalists began asking how she managed such a high output of work, Tweeting and blogging continuously on top of her regular news reports. It was the satphone that made the difference. When there is no time to record a piece to camera, Jenan will often use the satphone to call her studio and deliver an audio-only report, relying on the Thuraya voice channel for broadcast-quality sound.

This often happened in Libya when she was travelling with anti-Gaddafi rebels as they pushed back the government forces, using her Thuraya satphone to file reports as they moved from town to town. One particular occasion sticks in her mind. The rebels had just driven Gaddafi troops out of the coastal town of Ras Lanuf when she arrived. “The Gaddafi troops had literally just left when we entered the building they had been using as their base. Their slogans were all over the walls and their coffee cups were still on the table. It was a scary experience and still potentially very dangerous. I just got out the Thuraya satphone and used it to phone in my report, which was probably the first saying the town had been taken.”

Now she has a SatSleeve+ she loves the flexibility it provides, enabling her to make satellite calls and send messages from her iPhone, with access to all her usual contacts and speed dials.  It is compact and lightweight, and so fits easily into a backpack. This is an important factor because she often has to travel extremely light, as when covering the refugee sea crossings from Turkey to mainland Europe.

It was while covering the refugees’ story that Jenan realized how many people in the region rely on Thuraya for essential communications. “Virtually every refugee I spoke to was aware of Thuraya. Before they got into a boat for a crossing they would ask the pilot ‘do you have a Thuraya satphone?’ because they knew it was the only reliable way of contacting the Greek or Italian coastguards if an emergency happened during the crossing. Their lives could depend on it.”

Jenan’s own  life is in danger every time she enters Syria, so she takes meticulous precautions over her personal security and the safety of the people around her. “Thuraya have told me there is no way that people who want to harm me can trace my position by locking in to the satphone signal, which is reassuring.” In the race to report first on some of the world’s biggest stories, Thuraya satphones are nothing but an asset.

Thuraya SatSleeve+: www.thuraya.com/satsleeve-plus

Al Aan TV: www.alaan.tv

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A satphone is the one companion you can’t do without

Dr Leo Montejo and Adrian Hayes are veterans of the Himalayas, and both know the true value of Thuraya from first-hand experience.

If you frequently work or travel in remote, dangerous places, the day may well come when you realise that a satellite phone is your best friend.
    
This realisation might hit you suddenly when you urgently need to call for help in an emergency, especially if you use the built-in SOS button function. Or it might develop gradually over time simply because your satphone makes your life easier and safer every day, allowing you to make or receive calls without delay at any time and in any place. The long battery life certainly helps, as does the navigation system. 

For Dr Leo Montejo, Chief Executive Officer of tech company WiCis, the moment of truth came in March 2016. He was part of an expedition climbing in the Himalayas when three of the group fell sick. One climber had such bad mountain sickness he had to be rescued by helicopter, and the call for help went out from a Thuraya SatSleeve+.


Dr. Leo Montejo in Mustang, Nepal 

“We were testing the Thuraya system with our WiCis-Sports app, so our focus was on that,” he said. “However, as soon as the medical emergency occurred we immediately turned to the satphone as the quickest way to call the rescue service. It was great to have it there and to know it would not let us down.”

Apart from his love of the Himalayas, record-breaking adventurer and former British Army Gurkha officer Adrian Hayes also shares Leo’s appreciation of Thuraya’s technology. For Adrian, however, there was no specific moment of revelation. A Thuraya user of 15 years’ standing, he has carried a satphone with him on his many climbs in the Himalayas, including reaching the summit of K2 in 2014, and on expeditions such as his 44-day crossing of the Arabian Desert on foot in 2011. But it was in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquakes of April and May 2015 that he really saw the power of a satellite phone that operates independently of terrestrial communications.


Adrian Hayes

Adrian worked for weeks using his skills as a paramedic and Nepalese speaker to bring medical aid to victims of the disaster –  initially in the remote Makalu region after the first quake, and then in Sindupalchok and Dolakha after the second. “My Thuraya XT-PRO was a lifeline to the world during that period not only for me but also for the villagers I met who desperately needed to contact loved ones elsewhere in Nepal,” he said. “Thuraya’s fantastic call quality and network coverage meant I could always rely on it.” The satphone allowed Adrian to maintain contact with the media in the outside world wherever he went, giving them updates on the dire situation on the ground for survivors.


Ain't no mountain high enough. Adrian on a Himalayan expedition.

His commitment to the health and well-being of the people of Nepal led Adrian to return with fellow qualified paramedic Royston Polding in September 2015 to give more medical aid, again with the back-up of a Thuraya satphone. This visit reinforced his conviction that a systematic way of delivering basic medical service was needed for people in the Himalayas, and this led to the creation of MIRA Himalaya (Medicine in Remote Areas, Himalaya). The project offers general medicine, first aid and health and hygiene education in the hills and mountains of Nepal.

The need to advance medical assistance in remote places is a passion shared by Dr Leo Montejo, although his company’s collaboration with Thuraya is focused specifically on the health of climbers and other adventurers. The WiCis-Sports app collects health data from lightweight sensors worn by climbers under their clothing and transmits it over the Thuraya network on to the worldwide web in real time. This data is “hospital-grade”, so doctors like Leo on the other side of the world can use that information to monitor the health of a climber and raise the alarm quickly if a health issue arises.


Garrett Madison on Mt. K2.

In June and July of 2016, Leo worked with mountaineer Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering to test the Thuraya/WiCis solution on a climb of K2, the world’s second highest mountain. After a hard day’s climbing at high altitude he saw from Garrett’s data that the oxygen saturation of his blood was down to 75%. “That’s far too low for a normal person, and not great even for an athlete like Garrett,” said Leo, “so I advised him to take oxygen that night while sleeping. He was fine the next morning, but it was good medical practice to take the precaution. If necessary, I could have called him on the Thuraya satphone and talked the issue through.”

Leo and Adrian both know from personal experience that, when it comes to safety in remote places, your satphone really is your best friend – and is often the best friend of the people you set out to help.

Thuraya SatSleeve+: http://www.thuraya.com/satsleeve-plus
Thuraya XT-PRO: http://www.thuraya.com/xt-pro 
Adrian Hayes: http://www.adrianhayes.com
Learn more about the WiCis-Sports app & the Thuraya collaboration: http://www.wicis-sports.com/index.php/partnerships/thuraya

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Thuraya provides a ‘lifeline’ as earthquake hits charity trekkers

Beauty and danger walk hand in hand in the mountains of Nepal, where a satellite phone is the only guaranteed way of calling for help or reassuring loved ones that you are safe.

Anne Edmondson of Dubai-based charity Gulf for Good (G4G) knows from first-hand experience just how important it is to carry a satphone. She was leading a party of trekkers in the Himalayas when a huge earthquake struck on 25 April 2015.

The group was on the eighth day of a G4G-organised fundraising expedition to Everest base camp, and as always Anne was carrying a Thuraya satphone. “Thuraya have been extremely generous in providing us with a SatSleeve for our expeditions,” she said. “It is essential kit, and on this occasion it became our lifeline to the outside world.”

After spending an acclimatization day in Pheriche, the small village in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal at 4,220m, the group was climbing north to the next scheduled stop at Labouche at 4,930m. As they passed through a steep-sided valley, Anne remembers feeling a strange swaying sensation. At first she thought she was ill, but then noticed that everyone had felt it and was rooted to the spot.

“It seemed like the earth was slowly moving around us, and then rocks began to fall and there was a loud crunching noise,” Anne said. “I don’t know how long the earthquake lasted, perhaps only a couple of minutes, but it was absolutely terrifying.”

When the shaking had stopped, and having checked no one was hurt, Anne’s first thought was to use her Thuraya satphone to call G4G in Dubai. “It was a Saturday and the office was closed, so I called a staff member at her home, just to say ‘we’re safe’. It was so soon after the quake that she hadn’t heard anything about it, but thanks to Thuraya I was able to reassure everyone we were ok.”

The SatSleeve turns your smartphone into a satphone, so Anne was able to make the call from her usual phone, quickly finding the right number in her contacts database.

At Labouche it was obvious that a major disaster had hit Nepal. A lot of buildings had fallen and people were injured. The G4G trekkers used the satphone to call their families and Anne posted a message on Facebook to say again that all were safe.

After a night’s rest, the only choice was to head back to Lukla Airfield to catch a flight to Kathmandu. The return took four days, and Anne relied on the SatSleeve to report back on every step of the journey. “It was absolutely invaluable, because all other communications were down and it was a relief to be able to let our loved ones know that we were still ok, especially as after-shocks were happening.”

Anne shared the phone with people they met on the way, who were also desperate to get news back to their families. As the full extent of the tragedy unfolded, Thuraya played its part in helping people cope.

G4G remains fully committed to its charity work in Nepal. In fact, Anne will be leading an expedition to Annapurna base camp in April 2017, and the funds raised will be donated to the charity Mission Himalaya Children’s Eco Farm Home in Nepal.

“We will be taking a Thuraya satphone without a doubt,” said Anne. “Now, more than ever, we know how vital it is to be able to make and receive phone calls anywhere and anytime, because you never know what challenges the mountains will throw at you.”

Thuraya satellite phones: Contact Us                       

Gulf For Good: www.gulf4good.org 

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Our Month in Review - Busy Busy Busy

September has been a busy month for our team here at Thuraya with a series of events across the Globe.  While the AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit drew team members to Washington DC to discuss response strategies during humanitarian crises and natural disasters, the World Satellite Business week took our CEO to Paris, where he spoke about our next generation plans.


CEO Samer at World Satellite Business Week in Paris

Across the Mediterranean, a team was demonstrating how Thuraya keeps Africa, a region generally lacking in telecommunications infrastructure, secure and connected. Over the course of four days at AIDEX Africa in Nairobi, visitors were able to experience firsthand how our customized suites of solutions are helping local logistics, supply chains, business enterprises and NGOs.


AIDEX, Nairobi

Transcontinental Russia was on our radar as well, as we made our way to St. Petersburg for the second IT forum for the Russian oil and gas industry.  Our topic of choice: Empowering the Digital Oilfield and how Thuraya's mobile satcom technology makes oil and gas operations safer and much more productive.


The Second IT Form for Russian Oil & Gas Industry

We also supported three other international conferences during September. The Middle Eastern edition of the Offshore Patrol Vessels conference, in Bahrain, brought much interest to Thuraya’s maritime products. The World Vision Global Rapid Response Technology Exhibition in Kenya highlighted our voice and broadband solutions for first responders, relief missions, and search and rescue teams. And the PTExpo in Beijing showcased our entire range of maritime and broadband solutions, voice products and team from our Singaporean office.


The Offshore Patrol Vessels Conference, Bahrain


World Vision Global Rapid Response Technology Exhibition, Kenya


PTExpo, Beijing

Closer to home, and as part of the Sohar education program launched by the UAE sailing federation, students at the Dubai Modern School enjoyed a very informative session about satellite communication technology and how it saves and improves lives.


#ThurayaGivesBack: Nurturing young talent

And even when we weren’t there our products definitely were. During the Zambian elections, 200 Thuraya XT-PRO satellite phones and Thuraya IP broadband terminals were used by the Electoral Commission of Zambia and its staff during the country’s presidential elections.  

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Thuraya celebrates the exploratory zeal of Emirati women

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

By travelling unchaperoned, women gain deeper insights and understanding of places, people and cultures - expanding their horizons and hastening their growth as true global citizens. Simply put, travel educates and empowers women through its transformative appeal. 

‘Expanding horizons’ is exactly what the ‘OneDubaiOne’ team of Maitha Mubarak and Huda Zuwaid are trying to achieve. This Emirati duo has embarked on an extraordinary 5000 km adventure across the heart of Asia in an auto rickshaw or ‘tuk tuk’ as it is fondly called in the South East Asian countries. Maitha and Huda are no strangers to cars, SUVs, motorbikes, trains and buses. However, by using the humble and familiar auto rickshaw, they want to extend the hand of friendship to local people, transcending the barriers of race, language, creed and religion. 

Their Pan Asian journey seeks to reinforce the bonds of understanding, cohesion among peoples and above all, inspire a sense of ‘giving back.’ As the cultural representatives of the UAE, Maitha and Huda are retracing the footsteps of legendary Arab wayfarers, visiting orphanages and universities on the way, besides helping set up mini-libraries to foster education. They are also raising awareness about the upcoming Dubai Expo2020 and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s initiative to build a culture of reading and learning in the UAE. 

On such journeys of self-exploration, women require reliable communication equipment that ensure their safety and security even in the most remote places. When travelling far from home, voice and internet connectivity is a necessity, not a luxury. This is where Thuraya satellite communications plays a key role. Thuraya’s satellite phones, smartphone adaptors and mobile broadband solutions open up windows of accessibility anywhere within our coverage area spanning more than 160 countries, in locations that are beyond the reach of terrestrial networks. They come with special SOS buttons and navigation systems that boost their effectiveness as dependable communication tools during emergencies. 
While on the road, Maitha and Huda use XT-PRO satellite phones and IP+ broadband terminals to connect with their families and supporters, surf the internet and look up useful travel apps. In addition, Thuraya helps them chronicle their adventures on social media in real time. You can follow their exploits on Twitter and Instagram

Twitter: @OneDubaiOne

Instagram: @OneDubaiOne

By embracing connectedness, Thuraya inspires women to discover themselves.

 

 

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Opening Message

Earlier this month, we announced the completion of our next generation constellation plans. FUTURA, as the project is known, has already advanced into its execution phase. We are set to expand our horizons in three respects: we will extend our geographical reach, move into new market sectors, and launch new services and devices. Our aim is to be the provider of choice for unified connectivity.

As you would expect, our plans are comprehensive and ambitious. They build on what we have already achieved together - the company’s transformation over the past five years that many of you will have seen, contributed towards and supported. FUTURA sets our course for what is to come as we enter this next stage of transformation.

Venturing into new markets, strengthened by increased coverage and the greater capabilities our new constellation will deliver, Thuraya will generate new revenue streams as we aggregate FSS globally. On the development front, we anticipate a further fresh stream of a different nature: new terminals, and a rich and diverse mix of new FSS, MSS and hybrid products. Our portfolio of products, services and applications will develop far beyond what it is today, transforming what we can offer. It will feature low cost devices, modules, premium devices, higher throughput hand held terminals, small form factors and sleek designs, taking us across land, sea and air.

FUTURA strengthens our existing portfolio too. So while we look forward to a stimulating and protracted period of change, it is important to emphasise that business continuity is assured. Thuraya-2 and Thuraya-3 will continue to operate as planned, while investment will deliver the new satellites we need, with replacement satellites scheduled for launch from 2020. Our L-band capability is excellent, yet we will create best-in-class next generation L-band products and services that our competitors will be unable to match.

The full potential of Thuraya’s next generation capability has triggered considerable interest from the industry as a whole. This was immediately evident at the World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris: manufacturers, potential investors and potential partners all received the news with notable enthusiasm. What we have already achieved in the last few years is widely acknowledged, serving us well as a springboard into this next period of development.

As we prepare for sustained growth, exciting new sectors, and new market opportunities, I want to thank you for your ongoing support. I am really looking forward to doing so with many of you in person at our PDF event in November here in Dubai. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss devices, networks, routes to market, and applications and services in greater detail. It is exciting to be in a better position than ever to realise our full potential.

While the main focus of our newsletter is naturally directed towards FUTURA, the teams have been busy elsewhere too. We have included a summary of events attended throughout September, illustrating the breadth of shows and exhibitions at which we have flown the Thuraya flag.

Our newsletter also contains the first in what will be a regular series on solutions. Each month, we will feature a different solution from across the Thuraya portfolio. We begin in the telemedicine arena, with DigiMed.

We have also included an article by Leticia Diaz de Rio, exploring the advances in maritime communications that have been driven by the development of satellite technology. Finally, we feature the ‘OneDubaiOne’ Emirati team, who raised awareness for a number of causes as they travelled across Asia - with Thuraya products keeping them connected at all times.

 

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The Digital Era: Ship To Shore

Leticia Diaz del Rio, Thuraya's Global Business Manager for Maritime reveals how competition in maritime communication sparked by Thuraya is changing life at sea.

Operational efficiency, safety and crew welfare are being enhanced by technology that had previously seemed inaccessible to entire swathes of the market. Once there had been unchallenged and extortionate prices, which created a “take it or leave it” approach to sales. Now, there are opportunities to invest in equipment that had previously seemed out of reach for many players.

These days, digital and IT solutions play a crucial part in the environment on board more vessels than ever before experienced. From advanced navigation systems to permanent tracking devices, ships have never been so connected.

Today, the majority of vessels are finally enjoying the benefits of the digital era. This transformation has been energized by the availability of flexible plans, radically shorter installation processes and flexible contract periods. 

Europe’s Maritime Sector
According to Eurostat, the total gross weight of goods handled in EU ports was estimated at close to 3.8 billion tons in 2014. This makes Europe the most important exporter in the world and the second largest importer on the planet (behind the United States).


10 reasons why you should you shift to Thuraya MarineComms (click the image)

The Netherlands has recorded the largest annual tonnage of maritime freight in Europe every year since 2010 when that nation overtook the United Kingdom and remains the largest maritime freight transport country in Europe. Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, and Amsterdam have maintained their positions as the four largest ports. Italy comes third and Spain follows in fourth; Germany has climbed to fifth place, narrowly overtaking France. It is plain to see why Europe’s established and mature marketplace is naturally one of the most important regions for the maritime sector and, in particular, for satellite communications.

Europe may have one of the lowest number of vessels addressable for satellite communications purposes (around 30,000). However, European ship owners and seafarers are well-versed in the benefits of technology and what makes life onboard a vessel easier, safer and more efficient.

Fishing Solutions
In 2014, there were 85,154 fishing vessels in Europe with a combined capacity of 1.6 million gross tons. The largest fishing fleets among the EU member states, in terms of power, were those of France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Spanish fishing fleets were by far the largest in number: close to double that of the United Kingdom.

Some fishing vessels are state-of-the-art and possess tremendous IT systems onboard. These vessels use weather applications to study the ocean floor (bathymetry). When fishing maps are combined with high resolution satellite images, skippers can estimate if a specific area shows a certain quantity of fish.

These solutions help locate the fish more quickly and, when combined with the appropriate tools, they help find the optimum route to the fish, thereby saving time and fuel. 

Satellite communication is also being used in buoys that are left adrift in the middle of the ocean. These buoys possess a satellite transponder and are equipped with a solar panel. Depending on the type of buoy, information such as the quantity of all fish or of a certain species will be sent to the vessel and to HQ. 

Such information is obviously extremely valuable for a skipper or ship owner. When combined with satellite images and weather information, the crew has the full picture of what is occurring at sea.

Nor are these buoys used exclusively for fishing. A satellite transponder simply provides the communication link, but the detail of information gathered depends on the solution developer. Some governmental organizations want to use the same system for scientific purposes to monitor ocean temperature and endangered species numbers, or even to detect tsunamis.

The Need For Data
In the past, seafarers chose the traditional circuit-switched voice option for ship to shore and shore to ship communication. It is not difficult to find customers who were generally charged around $400 for 10 minute calls to family and friends.


Thuraya Atlas IP delivers enhanced connectivity & greater operational efficiency on ships.

At the start of the decade, the voice to data split was 80:20. Now it’s the other way round, with data very much the preferred choice.

The transition to data has forced satellite communication operators to become solution providers. This is due to the high level of expertise needed to optimize bandwidth and to deliver an overall better user experience.

Today, vessel owners prefer to opt for a data allowance that provides email, Internet, and Voice over IP (VoIP) applications that benefit crew.

In recent times, the cost of airtime over L-band and VSAT communications has dropped significantly, giving ship owners more choice and flexibility (depending on the type of vessel and level of IT integration).

Some customers prefer an exclusive voice line to the captain that allows them to speak to him directly whenever there is need to do so. Others require a local number that will help reduce the bill. This is a typical requirement for crew welfare as some ship owners want to offer the most cost effective solution for their crew. Some crew are given scratch cards to use to call family and friends from abroad at a local rate.

Data solutions are flourishing and have contributed enormously to the new onboard digital era. While data connectivity has opened the floodgates to innovate solutions, also ensured is that providers continue to create technology at affordable prices.

Remote Monitoring
Satellite M2M units can control and monitor individual containers while they are being transported. This is driving tremendous telemetry and M2M growth—installing cameras inside containers and then accessing the feed remote is not uncommon these days.

A monitoring system onboard a vessel is another interesting development—tracking devices connect to sensors that trigger a camera, which then records onboard activity. This footage can be viewed remotely by ship owners and maritime authorities. These systems are becoming more and more popular onboard specific fishing vessels.

Some solutions are designed specifically for fishing equipment. A sensor on the equipment when being used triggers a recording. This offers notable support in emergency cases, especially in the event of a pirate attack.

Security Measures
With access to modern technology on the rise, piracy attacks could become less frequent with the sharing of data from ship to shore. The future of marine safety and security lies in video surveillance systems that can transmit ‘real time’ information such as speed, course, location and fuel to the relevant authorities.


Thuraya Orion IP. The search for high quality, affordable broadband is over!

This vital information can be shared directly from the ship to headquarters, and subsequently to surveillance vessels and marine patrol aircrafts,when ships are in distress. This is all made possible by satellite communications. While in the past this level of communication was extremely expensive and, therefore, unavailable to many, satellite operators have now created competitive offers to suit most budgets.

Satellite technology in the marine sector has come a long way over the last decade. Operators and developers continue to innovate by creating equipment and devices for the safety and security of crew.

As awareness of the new competitiveness in satellite technology continues to increase, of interest will be to see how far the digital era penetrates across the maritime sector and what else can be achieved to the benefit of all involved in the maritime sector.

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Thuraya Organizes Blood Donation Drive Under 'Give Back' Program

On May 19, and as part of Thuraya's CSR program, we organized a Blood Donation Drive at our Primary Gateway in Sharjah. The aim of the drive was to contribute to the build-up of blood stock and to create awareness on the importance of donating blood, which is directly correlated to Thuraya's purpose of ‘saving and improving lives.'

The donation process was managed by a dedicated team from the Blood Transfusion and Research Center in Sharjah which falls under the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention. 

More than 25 Thuraya employees of different nationalities volunteered to donate blood, happy to contribute to helping those who are in need of blood transfusions. The lives of patients depend on the timely supply of compatible blood. It is one of the most effective ways to save a life.

The human body replaces donated blood within 24 hours. In fact, donating blood is an extremely healthy way to encourage your body to regenerate new blood on a regular basis.

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Introduction, June newsletter

Writing at the end of the month gives me the opportunity to look back across a series of events and exhibitions held and attended around the world. CommunicAsia, one of the largest ICT platforms in Asia-Pacific, served as a real springboard for us to demonstrate the breadth of what can be achieved with the application of our new M2M capability. In the right hands, M2M converts difficulty into opportunity, by identifying a specific challenge or problem, understanding its full impact, and then applying the right solution.

Singapore also played host to our inaugural Asia Partner Forum. Service partners from across the region attended, and this was an excellent opportunity for everyone to interact with one another. The power of human engagement and contact remains as strong as ever, even if the technology being embraced accelerates the world’s ability to operate an increasing number of functions on a machine to machine basis.

Turning westwards, the focus at Posidonia in Athens was naturally on all things maritime. Showcasing our portfolio, strengthened this year by Thuraya Atlas IP, we joined forces with IEC Telecom. Posidonia proved to be an excellent platform at which to highlight the ten good reasons to switch to Thuraya, which lie at the heart of our successful marketing campaign. It was good to take this important opportunity to raise the profile of the Thuraya brand at what is understandably billed as the world’s most prestigious maritime event. It was good to get noticed alongside the competition, and pleasing to have discussions with a large number of potential customers and distributors. We must take every opportunity to emphasise the fact that maritime has endured its status quo for far too long; there is a true and positive alternative out there, and it has our name on it.

Still in Europe, the team then headed to Paris and Eurosatory, where attention turned to GovernmentComms. This was probably the most productive year at this event for Thuraya. On top of a number of preplanned government delegations, some of whom returned for multiple visits, good quality traffic to the stand increased day to day. It was very encouraging to note that a high number of delegations were already well informed about Thuraya, and were keen to know more about the specific products and solutions we were showcasing. The primary focus was on Thuraya IP Commander, the world’s most rugged vehicular terminal, gained considerable attention and interest. Visitors also wanted to hear more about Thuraya’s TacSat offering, with the Arion mission module developed by GRC solution generating a lot of interest. The success of events is gauged by what happens afterwards too, of course, so it is excellent to note that four governments have already been negotiating dates for end-user demonstrations and briefings. 

Eurosatory also gave us a chance to highlight our ambitions for Thuraya Aero, in development with SMP Aviation, and we will provide further updates later in the year.

This month’s newsletter includes two features from Satellite Pro. There’s a contribution from Keith Murray, in an article on crew welfare, and another from John Huddle, in a feature on satellite newsgathering (which is found on page ten of the issue). We’ve also included an item on a blood donation day held at our gateway in Sharjah. Then there’s news of our support with Satlink for the Walk on Project, a Spanish foundation that raises money for neurodegenerative diseases. The foundation has taken our technology on its climbing trip to Gasherbrum, a remote group of peaks located at the northeastern end of the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas. While our attention is turned to the Himalayas, we now have a case study available for the pioneering telemedicine work developed by WiCis Sports earlier this year. We will also be able to share details of the current trip to K2, which has gone ahead on the back of the successful trials that the case study describes. This is a truly exciting and innovative application of technology.

 

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How Satellite Technology is transforming the world of adventure

It has been suggested in some quarters that technology is taking the edge off exploration and adventure. High tech kit and the latest gadgets, it is said, dilute human accomplishment out there in the wilds and great wildernesses of our planet. As our capability to track and monitor our every move advances, levels of excitement and challenge are diminished because we are losing a sense of isolation and distance. That’s how the argument goes, at least.

I disagree, and I am pleased to say I am not alone. Mark Evans, for instance, used Thuraya equipment when recreating the Empty Quarter crossing of 1930 with an international team of explorers who set out from Oman. But the experience was much the same, 85 years on. They still covered more than 800 miles in YY days on foot, in the same heat. Incidentally, they claimed that the camels they used for the journey were no match for their forebears, which added to the logistical challenges. They were met, of course, by the timeless hospitality of the Bedouin people living there, just as their predecessors had enjoyed.


Thuraya SatSleeve+

Technology diluted none of this. Instead, it opened up the journey by making it possible to share the experience with the many people who were following the team’s progress. The data sent via a Thuraya IP+ brought the journey to life for a wider audience around the world. The team’s sense of wonder at the beauty of their surroundings was enhanced, not reduced, by their ability to share it.


Thuraya IP+ mobile satellite broadband terminal

Technology disseminates the same sense of wonder mankind has always had, showing more people than ever just what is possible. So adventure is becoming more inclusive, more accessible. Technology is opening up more of the world to more people, raising the bar of human achievement by encouraging more people to do great things. It is changing how we see the world, without making the environment less challenging itself: environments previously deemed impracticable are being embraced.

There is no doubt the first explorers, venturing out into the great unknown, were faced with a level of uncertainty that is no longer there. But that uncertainty was lessened as soon as those first explorers achieved what they set out to do. Moreover, it is hard to imagine any but the most foolhardy explorers ever setting out without first equipping themselves with the most advanced materials of the day.

Those who rue the fact that life is easier for today’s adventurers and thrill seekers thanks to satellite communications and versatile internet connections overlook this. It is right to champion the pioneers, yet I believe the earliest explorers would have not hesitated to bring along such lifesaving tools, if they had the option. There are all too many explorers who have perished in their desire to discover our world whose deaths set us back decades, evencenturies, who would otherwise have survived, had they had access to the levels of technology their successors enjoy.

Our technology is today’s equivalent of Bond Chronometers, the Bygrave Position-Line Slide Rule, the Ramsden Sextant and countless other pieces of equipment that explorers adopted. Whichever century you are living in, technology makes life easier and safer, saving us valuable time. 

Imaginative new applications of modern technology are exciting. While the idea of using your smartphone or health apps to monitor your vital signs is not new, having them reach your health provider from the most remote and harshest of earth’s landscapes, in real-time, is groundbreaking. So how does that work and how might it affect a person going on a solo round-the-world sailing trip or an expedition to the Antarctic? Well, we at Thuraya recently put this all to the test by joining forces with WiCis Sports, supporting a climbing expedition to the Himalayas.


WiCis-Sports Wearable Solution

We collaborated on wearable devices that compile and update vital data such as the heart rate, body temperature, oxygen saturation, location, altitude and speed of each climber. This data is then uploaded to the cloud by connecting to our satellite network via Thuraya IP+, SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot. It thus becomes accessible and downloadable in ‘real-time’ for health professionals and the climbers themselves. The climbers also have access to live weather updates, to allow them to navigate around or avoid certain catastrophes. And, naturally, the same data links allow them to upload to social media platforms using the Thuraya network and products.

So what does it all mean? It certainly means satellite technology is making adventuring, discovery, even hard science more accessible to the able-bodied citizen of the world. It means that the average age of adventurers can go up, allowing fit seniors to accomplish more for longer. It also means we will have fewer unnecessary injuries and fatalities, faster rescues and full recoveries. More scientists can venture beyond the confines of their labs into the real world and actually score that discovery, push that envelope and advance the human needle of progress. And most importantly, it means many more of us get to experience the glory that is Earth, out in its natural habitat.. away from CGI and VR. What are you waiting for? Go play outside!


Satellite communications technology brings people & communities closer.

 

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