Small enhancements that help save lives

In our second post on Thuraya’s Customer Care services, Edwin Macapagal, Manager of Technical Support, Sales & Customer Support in the Customer Care division writes about his experience in managing a team that almost ‘never sleeps’.

I’ve been with the Customer care team for 4 years and during this time, the team has made a number of enhancements in our service delivery to ensure that customers can always reach us no matter where they are. 

Recently, we implemented a toll free number for customers who have run out of credit or have zero balance. This enables customers to reach out to us, especially in times of distress. Since implementation, there has been an increase in the number of calls received and we were able to help customers connect with their service providers to top-up their credit and also helped save the lives of those in distress. 

One of the most harrowing incidences happened on May 11 this year. We received a call from a mountaineer in the Himalayas. He and his team were stuck on their climb and their life was in danger. They needed to be rescued but had run out of credit on their Thuraya phone. Their attempts to recharge credit through the Phone Recharge service failed and they were unable to top up their subscription. 

However, we isolated the issue and were able to help the mountaineering team by contacting the Service Provider. They were able to top-up their credit and could reach the authorities to be recused within a short period of time. Throughout their ordeal, the mountaineer was in contact with us via SMS and on the phone. This incident showed that the implementation of our new toll-free number was vital in helping to save lives. 

Although we have our challenges, I am proud to be part of a team that is extremely dedicated, with a passion for their job. They are also not afraid to seek counsel when help is needed. For people who are keen on joining us, you should be open to taking on any challenges that comes your way, be a great listener and most importantly, be able to think on your feet so that you can help resolve their issues effectively and in a timely manner. 

The best part of working in the Customer Care division is that we provide 24/7 support for all our customers. Our team’s multi-language skills sets us apart from other customer care teams and creates a cross-cultural environment that is unique and fun to work in. If you are seeking new opportunities where your work can make a difference, come talk to us! 

Connect with Thuraya Customer Care at www.thuraya.com/contact-us

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

A burst of new talent at Thuraya

Last year, we kicked-off our Young Innovative Internship Program (YIIP) which is designed to work with local universities to source, recruit and train UAE National interns for the different divisions within the company.

Through career fairs locally and internationally, the program attracted over 500 applicants, all keen on pursuing a career in the burgeoning satellite industry in one of the fastest growing regions.

This summer, we welcomed six new engineering interns from Khalifa University of Science, Technology & Research, who will embark on a six-week internship with the Technology and Strategy and Business Development divisions.

They are:


Mohamed Fikri, Communication Engineering


Abeer Al Yammahi, Electrical & Electronic Engr.


Nasir Al Nimr, Communication Engineering


Ahmed Ayoun, Aerospace Engineering


Ali Al Mahdi, Communication Engineering


Rashid Al Memari, Electrical & Electronic Engr.

“We are very excited to be working with students from Khalifa University of Science, Technology & Research through our YIIP program. We aim to nurture young minds so that we can innovate and elevate the satellite industry,” said Ahmad Al Shareef, Vice President of Human Resources and Support Operations.

Thuraya has long prided itself in attracting and developing national talent in the satellite communications sector. Over the years, the company has recruited, trained and established the global careers of a significant number of homegrown talents who were responsible in establishing Thuraya within the global satellite industry.

When asked what drives her interest in Thuraya, Abeer Al Yammahi, Electrical & Electronic Engr said, “Thuraya’s purpose of “We Save and Improve Lives” inspired me to be part of an effective organization that not only provides telecommunication services to the public, but also helps saves lives of users who are in remote locations, especially when unexpected accidents happens.”

It certainly feels good to see that Thuraya has inspired our young talent!

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

RedPort Global: Delivering Optimized Data Connections for Maritime Needs

How does a Thuraya distribution partner sell connectivity to ship owners? By making it as straightforward as possible, according to John Dark, VP of Sales and Marketing for RedPort Global.

Dark describes his company’s business philosophy as simply focusing on the provision of cost effective, optimized voice and data services. “Data over satellite has traditionally been slower and more expensive than over other connections, and yet we are seeing more and more demand every day,” he says. “Our goal is to optimize connection speeds, and doing so at reasonable prices.”

RedPort Global was launched in 2010 as wholesale solution provider, a brand of Global Marine Networks (GMN) which was originally founded in 2003 to sell satellite email services. The company became a Thuraya partner in 2013. Its solutions run the gamut of connectivity needs. “We might start with a user on a handheld satellite phone who wants to create a Wi-Fi hotspot and access data—something that can be easily done over the Thuraya network thanks to its 9600bps data speed and low latency,” he says.

Specific to the maritime market, GMN delivers connections via the Thuraya Seagull SF2500, the Atlas IP or the new Orion IP broadband terminals for a variety of marine applications ranging from small commercial vessels to large cruise ships.

The RedPort Optimizer Crew, developed by RedPort Global, acts as an all-in-one router, firewall and traffic management system. Through this satellite Wi-Fi router, ship owners can provide crew connectivity and optimize onboard operations through greater broadband speeds and at reduced costs.

“For maritime users, there are generally two ways to pitch what we do,” Dark explains. “Either they want faster speeds, or they want to reduce costs. The RedPort Optimizer Crew lets them do both, because the speed is increased to such an extent that users are getting 85% savings on their data. So they are getting their data faster by using less.”

In practice, what Dark observes is that when users are satisfied knowing that they got a good value solution, they will tend to increase their expenditure.

“It’s not uncommon to find ships in which the crew refrains from using the data connection beyond what is necessary, due to the risk of bill shock. After every installation of the RedPort Optimizer Crew onboard, we saw an increase in data consumption, which stemmed from users knowing they are getting a well-managed service,” adds Dark.

The RedPort Optimizer Crew can be configured to meet the needs of both business and crew communications using any Thuraya narrowband or broadband terminal, with controls in place to allow crew the freedom to use their own devices while managing the time, data volume and service they can access.

As a result, RedPort Global played a leading role in igniting the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution in maritime. For marine operators, the Optimizer Crew can be set up to provide any degree of access according to their preferences. The owner will usually have open access while the crew can use it to access data by tapping on the Wi-Fi hotspot through unique user PIN codes.

Connections can also be configured to control the quality of service provided. The owner can either limit each user to a certain amount of megabytes at a predetermined data rate, or allow access by username and password with fixed amounts of data or time.

Dark is quick to praise Thuraya’s maritime offerings, which delivered high quality products that act as viable alternatives against more established competitors.

“The feedback we on Thuraya is very positive. The handsets were well-received, and the quality of the narrow and broadband terminals is very good,” he says. “Considering that Thuraya has put out two products in a short time span and are directly comparable to competitors who have been around for a long time, this is an achievement for Thuraya to be on par so quickly.”

As Dark points out, the RedPort Optimizer and the RedPort Optimizer Crew work equally well in relief, NGO, media and government sectors on land, but said that he sees a strong potential from the maritime market.

“Maritime is in our blood and we have a lot of legacy maritime customers. But right now, our focus is on data; there is so much data consumption on the water than there is on land, so that makes it a natural priority,” he concludes.

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

Customer Support That Makes a Difference

Maintaining a high level of support services is key to ensuring that our customers connect effectively over our network. Thuraya takes pride in being the only satellite operator to provide our customers and service partners around the world with a free 24/7 helpline service, delivered via a multi-channel contact center strategically located at our primary gateway (PGW) in Sharjah, UAE. This is the first in a series of blog posts showcasing Thuraya’s Customer Care services.

Our Customer Care team, which comprises of 12 Customer Care and Technical Support representatives and led by a dedicated Technical Support Manager, has the telecommunications expertise to field a wide range of enquiries—from questions related to our products and pricing to technical troubleshooting. The current team is about as diverse as you can imagine: we have members hailing from Algeria, Bahrain, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sudan and the UK. Collectively, we are able to deliver technical support in more than eight international and regionally spoken languages.

Besides the ability to communicate effectively in multiple languages, our team members also possess the requisite soft skills and emotional intelligence to maintain their composure even in high-pressure situations. From our experience, having excellent communications skills and a pleasant personality can make a world of difference in helping our customers resolve the issues they may face—even something as simple and mundane as reminding our customers to step outdoors in order to connect to our network!

For many of us, speaking with the customers directly is the best part of our jobs. You actually get to know who they are, what they do and what they want and expect. You also experience a great sense of satisfaction, when you go home knowing that today you helped someone or even saved a life.

Then there are the more light-hearted moments that are equally memorable. I recall a past incident when our colleague, Sabah Amire, was involved in resolving a technical issue that was impacting network services. The customer somehow got the wrong impression that we were operating on the actual spacecraft, and asked if our staff could “see him from space”! (For the curious, that answer is no)

I joined Thuraya in January 2011 and it has been an enriching experience right from the start, getting the opportunity to serve such a diverse customer base and support our global service partner network. Having worked for more than a decade in the telecommunications sector, I must say that my stint at Thuraya has been one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences of my professional career.

What’s truly unique about Thuraya, I feel, is the sheer diversity of opportunities and challenges that we come across on a daily basis. We have customers scaling mountains, exploring oceans, delivering services in war-torn areas, or running disaster relief operations. Our ability to effectively serve each of these market segments offers great fulfilment and a real sense of purposes to our work.

Connect with Thuraya Customer Care at www.thuraya.com/contact-us

Asim Khattak
Senior Manager, Sales & Customer Support
Thuraya Telecommunications Company

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

Thank you, MSUA!

This year, our Innovation team garnered yet another feather in their cap when the Thuraya SatSleeve received the Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) Innovator Award 2014, which was presented at the Satellite show in March.

We are delighted with the recognition, and will continue working closely with our customers, including government organizations around the world, to facilitate the adoption of new MSS solutions tailored to the mobility requirements.


MSUA President Tim Farrar (left) and Thuraya CEO Samer Halawi at the awards lunch

Thuraya also recently joined the MSUA as a corporate member to support the critical communication needs of mobile satellite users globally. Our membership enables us to collaborate with the Association and help drive innovation in the satellite industry to the next level.

We applaud the MSUA’s role in informing, advocating for and educating industry members and influencers about the importance of mobile satellite communications and are committed to supporting this important organization.

 

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

Saving lives with mission-critical communications

In times of crisis, government agencies and relief organizations need to react almost immediately to coordinate relief efforts in aid of survivors. Whether it was Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, or the earthquake in Sichuan China in 2008, the 2009 floods in Queensland and the fires in Victoria to the earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in Japan, these events have one common thread.

The destruction and disruption of telecommunications services following these disasters severely hampered the efforts of government agencies and relief workers,  all of whom arrived on scene with different means of communication that were not interoperable between different agencies.

Government agencies today demand cost effective and immediately deployable forms of communication that are simple to deploy and use, compatible with commercial, off the shelf technology, designed using standards-based technology, highly adaptable and interoperable. Effective communication isn’t optional, it’s a necessity.

To address this, Thuraya worked with Speakerbus to develop Thuraya’s NettedComms, a mobile satellite voice communication solution, that combines modular communications platforms such as the iManager Centralised Management System (iCMS), Voice Conference Manager (VCM), Radio Gateway (RGW) and End User Point (EUP) to provide our government end-users with the capabilities to coordinate and communicate with their field teams, at any time.

Here’s an example of how the system works:

For teams in the field, deploying such solutions allows them to quickly and efficiently coordinate help and engage with other teams to bring relief to survivors.

When it comes to saving lives, what you need is the right solution that and also the right partner to help ensure that you can work within stringent budgets to rapidly deploy and establish secure mobile satellite communications no matter where.

Need to find out more about Thuraya’s solutions for GovernmentComms?  Drop us a note at government@thuraya.com.

David Moss
Director, Government Services - Europe & Asia
Thuraya Telecommunications Company

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

Accelerating Product Development, Unlocking New Opportunities for Innovation

Developed by SRT Wireless, the new VIPturbo Module represents a significant breakthrough that enables Thuraya product developers to shorten development time and reduce manufacturing cost. In this guest blog, Conrad Smith, Chief Technology Officer of SRT Wireless, shares his views on how the VIPturbo Module can spur the development of new broadband terminals for the Thuraya satellite network.  

New technologies come and go. Yet, some technology developments have the potential to disrupt and shake up the status quo, as well as drive new ways of thinking about innovation. 

More than just a product, we believe the VIPturbo Module represents a major breakthrough in Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology — both in enabling Thuraya customers to communicate in the most remote and demanding environments, and helping Thuraya product developers make more money in less time. 

The VIPturbo Module is the first and only compact, single-board SDR solution that supports every service on the Thuraya network, including circuit-switched voice, fax, GmPRS, and standard IP with speeds up to 444 kbps and streaming IP with speeds up to 384 kbps. Additionally, the SDR has integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b, g and N) capabilities, allowing end-users to connect their smartphones and tablets wirelessly and enabling the demands of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD).

What’s truly unique about the VIPturbo Module is that Thuraya developers no longer have to allocate additional time and resources to develop SDR capabilities on their own.

With the VIPturbo Module, developers are able to address emerging market needs in a matter of weeks or months, not years. In other words, the product development cycle has now become a “packaging exercise” for Thuraya developers to build new products around the VIPturbo platform — rather than being an engineering exercise. Moreover, the VIPturbo Module is available at a fraction of the cost of other competing platforms.

We are excited about the commercial prospects of manufacturers and product developers integrating the VIPturbo Module into new satellite terminals for the maritime, land mobile and aeronautical markets. For instance, the VIPturbo platform has already been paired with the Spacecom 221 and 321 antennas to deliver connectivity via Thuraya’s satellite terminals, for land mobile and maritime applications respectively.

Consider the requirements of a coastal fishing fleet that need to establish a reliable data connection with its headquarters office. Developers can easily write this software routine and load it directly on the Open Multimedia Application Platform (OMAP) processor within the VIPturbo platform. Once initiated, all vessels in the fleet would be able to report their operational locations easily over Thuraya’s satellite network. 

Thuraya’s partnership with SRT Wireless demonstrates our joint commitment to break down barriers in the satellite industry. At the same time, the engineers at SRT Wireless are focused on making the VIPturbo even more compact, faster, and lighter, while providing a rich array of features at an affordable price.

We are optimistic that the partnership will continue to thrive, and result in the development of a wider variety of satellite terminals and new applications to address each vertical need. 

For more information on the VIPturbo, please visit http://srtwireless.net/products/vipturbo/

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

Need secure communications? Introducing Vocality’s ELITE Fusion!

Thuraya’s product development partner, Vocality, is launching their new ELITE Fusion system this coming quarter. The device is certified to work with Thuraya’s mobile satellite broadband terminals, the Thuraya IP and IP+. Ideal for first responders, government agencies and commercially sensitive operators, the Fusion system is a tactical communications device for small team deployments using satellite or fixed broadband, delivering traditional and VoIP phones, radio relay and network services all connected over any IP crypto. 

To help you learn more about the ELITE Fusion system, Vocality has put together an amusing short film showing how the ELITE Fusion can deploy essential comms to a politician and her supporting team. 

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

Reaching for the stars (literally)

Satellites are probably not one of the first things that spring to mind when one talks about Dubai.  The Emirate is better known for its landmark skyline, glamourous hotels, shopping malls and generous hospitality.  But, interestingly enough, the UAE has quietly transformed into a hub for space and satellite innovation.

Late last year, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Makhtoum took to Twitter to announce the UAE’s bold and ambitious plans for Khalifa-sat which is to be 100%  manfuctured and built in the Emirates by UAE engineers.  This is a huge feat considering the satellite industry is a highly complex and technically advanced sector limited to specific nations. Satellite manufacturers often have to recruit specialist space and satellite engineers globally as it is still a challenge to find homegrown talent to support such complex engineering projects.  As a UAE National myself and a satellite industry professional, I can say that this marks a very proud moment for my nation.

The Emirates’ roots in the satellite and space industry run a lot deeper than many realize. The UAE is actually home to three homegrown satellite operators, including Dubai-sat, YahSat and Thuraya.

The Thuraya story
Founded in 1997, Thuraya started as an innovative project by the UAE’s leading telecom operator, Etisalat. Etisalat recognized that there would always be parts of the the world which would never have terrestrial coverage. Either, there wasn’t a business case to justify the extension of the network, or it was physically not possible to deploy networks in mountain regions or at sea. There was also the problem of networks failing during times of natural or man-made disasters. This made having a blanket coverage satellite-ased back-up option critical. And that’s how Thuraya was born!


Thuraya - 2 was successfully launched in 2003

Thuraya is one of only four mobile satellite operators in the world. We are the market leader within our footprint coverage that spans Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Early on, Thuraya developed our reputation for innovation and a high-level of service quality. Our position as an industry innovator is continued with the introduction of the world’s first and only satellite adaptor for the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Dubbed the Thuraya SatSleeve, the device is clever and easy to use, making mobile satellite technology easy for consumers to adopt. This is the first time mobile satellite technology has gone mainstream and we are very proud to be a driving force behind this.

The satellite industry is a very well established, traditional sector. However, it lacks the intensity of innovation which the consumer telecoms industry has experienced with the advent of 3G, LTE and other new technolgies. Despite this, we believe that we have a strong opportunity to shake up our sector and make a difference in our customers’ lives. It may seem like a bold statement, but our products and services can make the difference between life and death. We connect people and we take this responsibility very seriously.


Thuraya - 3

Our people, the backbone of success
Perhaps our most important asset is not our satellites, but the talented, committed satellite professionals who are responsible for ensuring our satellites fly and operate smoothly. It is also through their creativity and ability to disrupt satellite technology, that has led Thuraya to the forefront of our industry.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I would say that it takes a strong nation to build a satellite industry. No other country in the world can claim to be home to three successful satellite operators.  The support and and commitment of the UAE government has made all this possible. I, for one, am very grateful for the exciting and challenging career I have. Being based in the UAE also means having a front row seat in these exciting times.  This is only the start of the UAE’s satellite and space adventure.

Jassem Nasser
Vice President Strategy & Business Development

Thuraya Telecommunications Company

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.
 

Overcoming High-Altitude Challenges with Thuraya

At 46, Simone Moro, has more than 50 mountaineering expeditions under his belt, and is on his way to setting another record.

He is now ascending Nanga Parbat — often referred to as the “Killer Mountain” — under the extreme conditions of the Himalayan winter. If he successfully conquers the harsh peak, this would make him the first to accomplish four first winter ascents of eight-thousander mountains. Of the past 16 attempts to climb Nanga Parbat in winter, none have succeeded.

With the world’s largest difference in height between base camp and the summit, Nanga Parbat is fraught with unpredictable assaults of snow storms. When Simone emailed us from Nanga, he had just escaped a storm. “I had made contact with the weather forecast center in Austria, which alerted my partner and I about an incoming storm, so we escaped from the high camps before the storm and snowfall hit the mountain,” he said.

Simone has been using Thuraya mobile satellite communications equipment with support from Intermatica for about 12 years, and he is the first alpinist to conquer Mount Everest with a satellite phone. Since then, Thuraya technology has followed him, every step of the way, on his various expeditions to the Himalayas, Karakorum, Thien Shan-Pamir, Africa and Caucasus.


Moro using a Thuraya SatSleeve for easy access to critical data and familiar apps on his smartphone. Photo credit to D.Gottler

In his current Nanga Parbat winter expedition, Simone is using Thuraya’s IP broadband terminals and satellite handsets to stay connected, as well as the Thuraya SatSleeve to allow him to access his iPhone applications. He relies on the Thuraya satellite equipment for weather forecasts, and communications with rescue teams, media, sponsors and fans.

Empowered with data connectivity in harsh environments, he has been able to keep safe and even save the lives of others. Moro explained: “Using the GPS function, I have helped arrange rescue several times. For instance, in 2005, my partner was injured in Batura Valley, Pakistan. I managed to give my coordinates to a helicopter rescue team, and they saved him in the nick of time.”

Lauding Thuraya satellite communications equipment for its reliability, Moro added: “I have never experienced failure in communications using Thuraya equipment. And though they are often subjected to rugged usage, like being used in temperatures way lower than official technical limits, the equipment have never broken. Also, in terms of network coverage, there is no real competition in the hemisphere covered by the Thuraya satellites.” Moro states that the devices, which are charged using solar panels, have long battery lives.


Moro with his army of voice and data equipment, which includes Thuraya IP, Thuraya IP+, a SatSleeve for iPhone 5, Thuraya XT, XT Dual and SO 2510. Photo credit to D.Gottler

Moro’s ascent up Nanga is hardly the last thing on his to-do list. After this, he will be heading to Nepal in spring to resume his rescue helicopter pilot duties, and to produce a movie about his life as an explorer and a rescue mission helicopter pilot. Thuraya and Intermatica are extremely proud with what Simone has achieved, and we look forward to continue supporting him on his future expeditions!

 

Media Enquiry

  • Country
  • I would like to be on the mailing list for press releases:
  • Image CAPTCHA
    Enter the characters shown in the image.

Pages