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Covering New Ground with Thuraya IP M2M

When there’s a need for innovation, Thuraya always rises to the challenge to meet it. A case in point - the recent launch of Thuraya IP M2M!

Our latest service is a robust M2M solution, designed to meet the market demand for IoT connectivity in remote locations that lie beyond-line-of-sight and outside the range of terrestrial networks. IP M2M supports high volume, high throughput machine-to-machine (M2M) applications and provides reliable, cost-friendly connectivity for operations that depend on the measurement and collection of large data amounts from inaccessible points and industrial zones.

As the service enables easy remote monitoring access, it lends exciting new possibilities to a number of sectors including oil and gas, utilities, government, banking, and renewable energy.

Here are a few IP M2M features that end-users can benefit from:

Easy Set Up
The service installation is relatively simple, given its high-end capabilities: IP M2M consists of a Thuraya IP+ terminal managed from the backend by a top-class Remote Terminal Management (RTM) platform, and is powered by Thuraya’s IP network with data speeds of up to 444 Kbps.

User Control Flexibility
The platform enables service optimization with an array of device and connectivity management features, including usage monitoring, connection control, firewall management, geo-fencing, usage traffic graphs and charts. Operators can view a terminal’s position, signal strength and current status, and can also reboot and configure the system remotely.

Diverse Applications, Multiple Industries
With IP M2M, Thuraya can deliver an extended range of solutions, including video- and image capturing for surveillance and security; real-time applications for oil and gas, smart-grid Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) recloser connectivity, environmental and water monitoring, and wind and solar farm monitoring.

Increasing Green Energy Efficiency
Specifically designed for swift connectivity between remote equipment, IP M2M accelerates the efficiency of operations in renewable energy production. The service empowers users with a smarter understanding of how appliances are working, enabling them to make faster decisions to boost the capacity of clean energy harvesting technology.

Enhances Future Possibilities
Thuraya’s new IP M2M service is our gateway into new market segments and enables us to further enhance our recent solutions for rural IoT, smart agriculture, smart metering, and cargo and shipping. To quote our CEO, Ahmed Ali Al Shamsi, “The Thuraya IP M2M service is one of the key components of our exciting FUTURA capability plans, and positions us well to effectively address the market requirements.”

Get more information on IP M2M here. | Learn more about Thuraya’s M2M technologies here.

To request a demo or find out how IP M2M can be useful for you, contact:

Thuraya Customer Care
From Thuraya network: 100
From other networks: +88216 100 100
Fax: +971 6 8828444


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Taking mission-critical satellite communications to the next level

Market Development Director, Fahad Kahoor shares valuable insights into Thuraya's suite of GovernmentComms products and solutions, which provide critical communications in the field. He calls attention to the special features of  CRYPTTIA, a unique command and control platform that allows smartphone users to utilize a unified Thuraya and cellular network for crisis management, defense and civil protection operations. 

You have recently opened an office in the US. Was that move to facilitate work on your ongoing FUTURA project and next generation constellation plans? 
Thuraya is already well established in the United States. We have a team supported by service providers and partners. In 2016, we launched M2M services in the USA with the introduction of the Thuraya FT2225 M2M terminal.

The new office located centrally between Washington D.C. and Tysons Corner, Virginia, offers close proximity to investors, key government and commercial customers and partners. It further brings the American team together, helping to serve these customers including the Department of Defense, which Thuraya counts among its list of longest standing customers. 

The new address marks a further step in the development of our ongoing FUTURA project and next generation constellation plans. 

Thuraya Headquarters in Dubai

Recently Thuraya and Indosat Ooredoo signed a Memorandum of Understanding. What are the objectives?
The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to develop a new range of services by combining Indosat products with Thuraya Satellite technology and devices for business customers in Indonesia.

The agreement has created a framework for collaboration in three main areas. New services will be developed using Indosat SIM cards roaming on the Thuraya network as well as bundling satellite devices with Indosat Ooredoo digital applications. At a later stage, Thuraya and Indosat also plan to develop additional use cases for the burgeoning IoT market.

The satellite-powered business applications allow organizations to extend their services beyond terrestrial networks, whenever they have remote connectivity requirements across various extreme environmental conditions. The full scope of markets now set for transformational communications capabilities across Indonesia includes oil and gas, and mining; plantations; high end yachting, merchants and fishing; military and police services. Thuraya’s extensive and reliable satellite network complements Indosat’s own connectivity, extending into those areas that are beyond terrestrial reach. This will enable both companies to offer a seamless customer experience. 

Thuraya's Connected Ambulance

Does Thuraya's 'Connected Ambulance' have any military applications?
The connected ambulance is an integrated telemedicine solution with a Thuraya IP Voyager terminal. It works over Thuraya’s extensive and reliable network, connecting onboard wired and wireless medical devices to hospitals and diagnosing physicians. It doesn’t have any military applications; however, it can be utilized by the military during critical missions, when personnel are injured and time is a matter of life and death.

What are Thuraya's latest applications for the defense sector?
Taking center stage is CRYPTTIA, a unique command and control platform developed by EYEONIX SA.

CRYPTTIA allows smartphone users to utilize a unified Thuraya and cellular networks for mission critical, crisis management, defense and civil protection operations. CRYPTTIA is a global platform combining both terrestrial and satellite voice technologies to bring push to talk services to smartphone users. 


CRYPTTIA is an IP-based end to end solution which offers “bring your own device” (BYOD) capability for fast and reliable communications in mission critical environments. It offers speed of deployment and ease of use. It is the only platform that can be fully operational, from scratch, in less than four hours as a mission critical unified system. 

The portable version, which is deployable in less than five minutes, serves as a fully operational command, control and decision support system. It requires less than one day to train mobile users, command and control center training is completed in three days, and administrator training takes five days.

NATO security-certified, CRYPTTIA guarantees optimal security for both call and data exchange, and is used for high level, top secret military intelligence and counter espionage. 
Agents are untraceable in the field, because of the unique task and incident management module, which can be automated and preconfigured, to coordinate a mission or an emergency automatically. 

CRYPTTIA is a speechless system: command center executives receive updates and task completion data through a configurable, color coded status level system. It can send and receive live images, and store and forward videos. When voice or text exchange is required, push to talk (PTT) voice and short message service communications for group and private users are always to hand.

Certified by Thuraya for added value system security and compliance, CRYPTTIA is a cost efficient solution that operates at a fraction of the cost of competing solutions.

With Application Interface (API) or Interface Control Document (ICD), CRYPTTIA can integrate third party networks (TETRA, DMR, UHF); platforms (command centers or surveillance systems); and unmanned platforms (UAVs, sUAVs and drones). CRYPTTIA delivers geolocation, tracking, and geofencing.

By upgrading their field smartphones, users can future proof their systems. Additional features include near field communication, man down alarm and lone fighter. For secure communication for highest level, mission critical use, CRYPTTIA offers end to end encryption through four layers of communication security. 

For more info on CRYPTTIA, please click here

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Year in Review 2016: Part IX - Thuraya Telecommunications Company

Source: SatMagazine
By Bilal Hamoui
Chief Commercial Officer, Thuraya

The finalization of FUTURA, Thuraya’s nexgen constellation plans; launching the world’s only dual mode, dual SIM satellite phone; and the arrival of the company’s first terminal to work in North America made for a memorable, disruptive and fascinating year.

For Thuraya, 2016 will always be remembered as a year of innovation, paving the way for a transformative and revolutionary future.

Thuraya’s future—FUTURA. Thuraya will become a “one-stop shop” for L-band, HTS, IoT, and GSM, offering an unparalleled portfolio of mobile products, applications and services. Thuraya will extend its geographical reach, move into new market sectors and launch new services and devices.

While continuity is a  ssured with both existing satellites, the L-band network will be enhanced significantly with the planned launch of nexgen from 2020. Thuraya will focus on delivering high mobility services both in existing core and newly accessible markets and will innovate, disrupt, and redefine across land, sea and air.

Earlier this year, the firm promised to unveil initiatives that will push the innovation boundaries in satellite and terrestrial convergence further, and that promise was kept. The company launched the best satellite phone in the world, the Thuraya XT-PRO DUAL, which delivers unprecedented flexibility, transforms usability and choice, and meets rising demand for convergence.

XT-PRO DUAL users can move seamlessly in and out of terrestrial coverage, enjoying connectivity everywhere. Opt for a Thuraya SIM card and a GSM card, or select any combination of SIM cards that meets users’ needs. 

The new handset’s ‘Always On’ capability allows users to effortlessly alternate between calls, ensuring they are always reachable on both the satellite and terrestrial networks. Callers can be contacted on their GSM number even while on an active satellite call - and vice versa.

2016 was also the year of M2M for Thuraya. The company’s dedicated M2M service and terminal became available over North America for the first time. In partnership with ViaSat, Thuraya is now bringing real-time IP satellite communications to a greater share of the M2M market. As ViaSat’s vice president and general manager, mobile satellite services, Phil Berry, said, “Thuraya’s FT2225 M2M device running over the reliable ViaSat L-band service will serve a broader class of markets.”

Launching the world’s most rugged vehicular terminal was another proud achievement at Thuraya. The IP Commander, purpose-built for military, government, civil defense and emergency response teams, is engineered to enable mission-critical voice and data connectivity in the remotest of areas within minutes. Offering IP data speeds of up to 444 kbps, this is the only MIL-SPEC vehicular terminal capable of achieving streaming IP speeds of up to 384 kbps as well as user-definable asymmetric streaming functionality.

Thuraya ventured into the connected wearables sector as well, joining forces with WiCis-Sports and achieving groundbreaking positive results. With the WiCis-Sports app running on a Thuraya SatSleeve+ on expeditions to Nepal and K2, climbers and their families enjoyed a more secure experience by resting assured their vital information was continuously being checked. 

New agreements and partnerships have opened up exciting new markets and ensured that no one is left behind. The company is a pioneer in the Maldives, with Ooredoo, providing fisheries and anglers with satellite connectivity. Fishing operators can access monitoring systems and services with Thuraya SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot devices and data packages. 

In Vietnam, the company’s first service agreement is helping VNPT VinaPhone establish satellite services across the country. Vietnamese customers can now access the mobile satellite services and maritime communication services they need. Thuraya’s XT-Lite handsets and maritime communication solution SF2500 are being introduced to consumers, government agencies and enterprise customers. Costs are being driven down by an average of 40 percent, offering unprecedented value.

Thuraya’s reach across the shipping routes of Europe have been extended, as well. As Satnews editors put it, “Into the Black Sea goes Thuraya with a new service partner.” With NBS Maritime, the firm’s first ever service partner in Bulgaria, Thuraya advanced its regional maritime strategy into the Black Sea where an alternative to the status quo is clearly needed.


Thuraya’s satellite capabilities were demonstrated at the firm’s primary gateway office in Sharjah to a delegation from NASA who on a visit organized in conjunction with the UAE Space Agency. NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Badri Younes, welcomed this “great opportunity to see just how much Thuraya has grown in recent years. Thuraya has historically provided many agencies with tremendous service support, and we at NASA would like to work together closely too.” 

Saving and improving lives is in Thuraya’s DNA. This is the company’s purpose and makes a difference when knowing that what the firm accomplishes has such great impact on people’s lives in other parts of the world. This humbling privilege and responsibility unifies Thuraya as a team and as an organization. In 2015, the company met the call for help that followed the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Thuraya support continues and the company is still heavily involved in providing communications to humanitarian organizations working on CSR programs for rebuilding remote communities, schools and hospitals. Similarly, in 2016, the ITU deployed 30 XT handsets and five of Thuraya’s IP terminals in flood-stricken Sri Lanka. 

These are momentous times for Thuraya. New announcements, services, products and updates are looked forward to during 2017, product, services and technologies that will break barriers and will further advance innovation. 

Thuraya will start the New Year with the nexgen system RFP on schedule, taking the firm ever nearer to the vast breadth of opportunities to be delivered through the company’s FUTURA program. 

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CEO Samer Halawi Interview with MSUA Mobility News

Source: MSUA Mobility News

Thuraya CEO Samer Halawi talks to Catherine A. Melquist, President, MSUA (Mobile Satellite Users Association) Mobility News about the development of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and European regional markets, FUTURA - Thuraya's next generation capability, the convergence of satellite and GSM and a New Wave of Internet of Things.

Catherine:  Thuraya is an early leader in the satellite mobility market and there’s been a lot of recent press about your plans for taking the business forward.  Before we get into the details about your news, let’s talk about Thuraya’s start in the mobility market.
Samer:  Thank you, Catherine. It’s helpful to set the scene, while we prepare ourselves for the next chapter in the Thuraya story with our next generation capability plans.
Thuraya is a leading MSS operator and a global telecommunication provider. We deliver data and voice connectivity across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe – 161 countries and two thirds of the globe. The sectors we serve include maritime, government, energy and broadcast media, alongside humanitarian NGOs. Our network covers two thirds of the globe by satellite, while our unique GSM roaming capabilities (and we have roaming agreements with 371 terrestrial operators in 175 countries) give us global coverage.
Thuraya’s story can be divided into three phases, if we include moving forward with FUTURA, our next generation capability plans, as the third of these. We began in 1997, as the first MSS operator in the Middle East, founded by regional telecommunications operators aiming at complementing terrestrial coverage. We operate from our head office in Dubai and our Primary Gateway technical facilities in Sharjah, and we have another office in Singapore. We are set to add another office at the start of 2017, in Washington D.C.
Our two current satellites were launched in 2003 and 2008, by which time we had already established our reputation for top quality, innovative handsets.
The second phase of the company’s history began in 2011, which was also the year I joined as CEO. We introduced an innovative product pipeline; established a government service business that has already resonated well in North America and Europe; and revamped both the distribution network and the sales force.
Thuraya has consequently grown faster than the MSS market. In fact, we outstripped the industry with CAGR rates of 8% across 2011-2015, double the 4% rate of the industry.
Our emphasis on building momentum and delivering innovation has driven growth and differentiation. Thuraya’s portfolio includes the revolutionary Thuraya SatSleeve; the XT-LITE and XT-PRO; and the Orion and Atlas IP terminals, to name but a few. We have also just launched Thuraya XT-PRO DUAL, the world’s first dual mode, dual SIM satellite phone. This product embodies the concept of convergence, like no other.
This year we also entered the M2M market, establishing a presence in North America in partnership with ViaSat.
We are now set to build on what has been put in place since 2011. This next stage will take us beyond current resource limitations, delivering the next generation of satellite capability, which will be transformational.
Catherine:  There’s a lot of innovation taking place in the mobility market.  How do you see Thuraya fitting into the new services being offered to the market?
Samer: We are very much focused on our own roadmap – our FUTURA plans, which will expand the scope of the business, and the markets in which we can operate. Thuraya will take the lead in future satellite mobility innovation. We intend to deliver a blueprint for success, building a whole new business around our existing distribution platform, licenses, experience and strong user base.
Our roadmap will generate a comprehensive portfolio of L-band, High Throughput Services, Terrestrial, and New Wave Internet of Things services, creating an unrivalled one-stop shop. This will enable us to address new growth markets that need the mobility, capability and coverage that is only available through L-band or HTS services - or in many instances through a combination of both.
We have already shown a real understanding of the value of easy, convenient access to satellite connectivity for end users. As we expand and diversify on an unprecedented scale, Thuraya will become the provider of choice for unified connectivity. New generation L-band and complementary HTS form the basis from which to innovate, disrupt, and redefine. With new markets becoming accessible to us, new technological capabilities will deliver an unparalleled portfolio of mobile products, applications and services.
Catherine:  As and MSS operator, what’s your perspective on the convergence of MSS and FSS? 
Samer:  Thuraya’s focus is on satellite and GSM convergence and we see four drivers for future growth: need, technology, products and business models.
Let’s look at those one at a time. In terms of need, there are many compelling reasons for ubiquitous constant connectivity. Vast water masses will always be inaccessible to terrestrial operators, and 100% GSM coverage is simply not economically feasible. M2M solutions require satellite technology given the need for ubiquitous coverage across borders; and that same satellite technology is needed to alleviate last mile bottlenecks. Furthermore, the rising number of man-made and natural disasters elevates the need for complementary solutions.
Then there’s technology. Convergence was once a matter of fixed and mobile within the terrestrial world. Thuraya goes beyond that, complementing terrestrial by operating a GSM-based satellite network. We give customers the same experience they get on terrestrial mobile, and we give them roaming. We offer full network convergence with GSM, which gives you uninterrupted connectivity. Our SIM cards and those of terrestrial operators are interchangeable, and work on each other’s networks.
That brings us to the third factor: the products themselves. This is where innovation is so powerful. We ensure our products are built with the customer’s needs in mind, and as such we are able to offer capabilities and a form factor that are unparalleled in the industry. In addition, there’s the BYOD concept for smartphones which we invented with the Thuraya SatSleeve, and recently improved with Thuraya SatSleeve+ and Thuraya SatSleeve Hotspot.
During our annual product development forum this November, an event during which we promote innovation and disruption with our partner community, we announced the launch of the world’s first dual mode, dual SIM satellite phone. The Thuraya XT-PRO DUAL is convergence in your hand. It completely bridges the gap between satellite and terrestrial communications, allowing users to move seamlessly in and out of terrestrial coverage to enjoy connectivity in any location. Moreover, it is packed with a number of innovative features such as tracking and geo-fencing, amongst others. So we have taken the next step in terms of what satellite phones can deliver.
Finally, it’s about the business model. For us, that we work with each of our business partners to create the best possible offering for their customers. Partnership and flexibility are key.
Catherine:  Of all the drivers for future growth, what do you think is most imperative for your target markets?
Samer: There is considerable growth potential for MSS, with plenty of opportunities to address in the mobility market, and changing dynamics to consider. The need for communications is getting ever greater – both for people and for machines. Mobility itself has never been more important, and we are entering a new era of connectivity for ships, aircraft and human beings. Then there’s the explosive growth in solutions and apps. Sadly, both man-made and natural disasters are on the rise, too. Also, while the market may generate lower ARPUs, you will see far more devices, and an increasing consumer interest.
Catherine:  What market segments is Thuraya looking towards for future business growth?
Samer: As we look ahead to the step change that FUTURA will bring, you will see an extensive flow of launches of new and innovative devices, terminals and modules, for enterprise, government and consumer markets. Enterprise land, consumer and government form the basis of our current approach. But FUTURA will triple the size of the addressable market, and this permits us to adopt a more expansive yet fully focused strategy.
Thuraya’s next generation system will focus on delivering high mobility services in core and new markets. These will be complemented with High Throughput Satellite (HTS) services for bandwidth-hungry applications in land, maritime and aeronautical markets. The constellation will be supported by highly advanced platforms for the provision of “new wave” IoT and content services, with multicasting and broadcasting capabilities.
This will enable Thuraya to address new growth markets requiring the mobility, capability and coverage that is uniquely available through L-band or HTS services, or in many instances through a combination of both. In short, we will develop an integrated offering of voice and data products to target carefully selected, high-growth sub-segments.
It’s exciting. We’re adopting the mentality and the energy – the sheer determination - of a startup, and adding that to the momentum and experience gained from the last 19 years. Crucially, we can offer service continuity while planning for future evolution, and that’s a vital message of reassurance to all our existing partners.
Catherine: Many thanks Samer for taking time to provide insights into Thuraya’s business and plans.  We appreciate your longstanding membership with MSUA and look forward to learning more as your plans for FUTURA continue to evolve. 

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Opening Message

Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter. It has been a productive month.  

We can now look back on another memorable Product Development Forum. Thank you to everyone who attended, helping to make the event such a success. We hope the meetings you had were fruitful. Let’s keep the dialogue going through the end of the year and on into 2017. If you did attend but haven’t had a chance to send us your feedback, so please go here and let us know how we can make it even better next time.

Delegates were able to gain further insight into FUTURA, our next generation plans, as well as a preview of what the immediate future holds across product development. Star of the show, though, was the world’s best satellite phone, the Thuraya XT-PRO DUAL: the world’s first dual mode, dual SIM satellite handset. Interest has been considerable, and we have generated a lot of positive feedback and media coverage. You can read the full announcement here in this newsletter.

Well done again to all our award winners - especially for the Innovative Product idea from Intermatica S.p.A. We are very excited to work with you to take this idea to the next level. Congratulations also go out to our partners at Asia Pacific Satellite Communications Inc, Ground Control Systems Inc and WiCis -  winners of the Best Product, Best Solution and Best App categories. Our current success is built on partnerships, which will help us innovate, disrupt and redefine in the future.

We also bring you a blog feature on WiCis; and the solution under the spotlight this time is MCD Voyager.

There will be one more newsletter in 2016, in which we will review the year that has gone and look ahead to what promises to be a truly momentous 2017 for Thuraya.

Thank you,


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Turning Facts into Fiction

Why Africa’s Present doesn’t have to be its Future, when it comes to broadband?

More than 3.2 billion people in the world have access to the Internet. This includes around 642 million Chinese, 280 million Americans, 243 million Indians, 109 million Japanese, 108 million Brazilians, and 84 million Russians, among others.  These individuals use the Internet for economic development, entrepreneurship, education, and health care.

There is a notable absentee from that list of headline numbers: Africa.

A recent survey conducted by the U.N. Broadband Commission reported that 8 out of 10 countries with the lowest levels of Internet availability in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa. Those eight countries are Ethiopia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Somalia, Burundi, Eritrea and South Sudan. Sadly, Internet penetration in all these countries is less than 2 percent of the population.

What is even more alarming is the fact that, on a weighted average, the entire continent’s internet penetration is dragged below 20%. This is in contrast to the global population average, where 50% will have broadband by the time you are reading this article.

That means there are nearly 900 million people alive today in Africa who are unable to benefit from the internet. Equally importantly, that means close to one billion people are unable to trigger the benefits that internet connection can deliver local and national economies.

The failure to even reach 20% penetration levels is key, since this is the recognized tipping point. Penetration rates of at least 20% are needed for real socio-economic benefits to be spurred. This positive correlation between connectivity and growth has been observed so frequently that “broadband” is now the synonym of “economic development” in many parts of the world.

A significant broadband presence does more than reflect the wealth and commercial strength of a particular society: it actively drives it. Governments need to be alert to this fact, and to the return on investment that is achievable once you gain a clear understanding of the benefits of a strong broadband infrastructure. That is not to say that this is the silver bullet sought by many nations, in Africa and beyond. However, the opportunity to connect at speeds faster than any silver bullet could ever achieve needs to be embraced. Nowhere is this more true than across vast areas of Africa.

Many countries in Africa have such poor fixed-line infrastructure that the whole idea of rolling out broadband seems like an unattainable dream.  And, without broadband, a large percentage of Africans will be denied access to many of the opportunities that those in other countries take for granted.

Broadband in Africa is not being deployed fast enough or far enough, putting it out of reach for many people and businesses. Moreover, broadband has direct impact on trade, manufacturing, agriculture, banking, education, and health care. The potential to channel the natural creativity and resourcefulness of the vast majority of African people is being lost.

Africa is a continent with the largest number of least-developed countries, landlocked and small-island developing states — each facing different challenges when it comes to tapping internet backbones. The many different countries in Africa face a range of different challenges, and find themselves at varying points of the broadband connectivity journey.

Countries to the north of the continent face challenges with submarine connection too, albeit of a different nature. This is a result of the specific purpose that lay behind investment in international submarine. Whilst individual countries with cables along the North African coast enjoy direct submarine links to European neighbors, and indeed to countries far further afield in Asia, they are less well served for connectivity with the Middle East.

Moreover, submarine cables off the coast have been designed with vast capacity, but by mid-2015 barely 8% of capacity was being utilized. Obviously, this confirms the presence of many issues, some of which have no quick solutions on the horizon. Now if we look high above the horizon, way beyond it and up into space, then perhaps we might see things differently.

In rural areas, mobile networks can be a more realistic option for providing voice and data services cost effectively and quickly. But the truth is, these networks aren’t as resilient in these remote areas, assuming coverage is provided to start with.

In fact, for many landlocked counties in sub-Saharan Africa, the cost of tapping into large sub marine cables is prohibitive due to disproportionate pricing. 

This is where satellite broadband comes in. Untethered from copper cables and those few and far apart overburdened cell towers, satellite broadband can reach any area under the sun. It can overcome the limitations of other network systems, overriding them when cables suffer damage – either through natural wear and tear, or deliberate cuts. Satellite technology, by its very location, is far less prone to disruption. It offers an immediate back-up service for the less reliable physically vulnerable infrastructure located both on and under the ground. Business continuity is key, as is the ability to provide constant vital support to critical industries, infrastructure and national security.

And this is what we have honed our technology to do, reach anybody and everybody equally well, unfazed by mountains, canyons or massive bodies of water (or desert). Our solutions are not burdened by geopolitics or lack of physical infrastructure. They don’t distinguish between a wealthy country or a poor one. Whether it is an oilfield survey outpost, a scientific expedition, a humanitarian mission or a remote school off the beaten track, satellite broadband solutions do not differentiate or falter.

The arrival of the information age in those less developed markets would not be science fiction, but simple science reality. Furthermore, that 20% penetration of broadband will simply be just a small statistical dip on the road to socio-economic recovery and growth.

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Polly relies on her ‘James Bond’ phone

For a few days most years, Polly Gotseva steps back from the hectic whirl of media production and enters the wilderness as a fundraiser for the charity, Gulf for Good (G4G).

But wherever she goes – Mongolia, Kilimanjaro, Myanmar, Nepal – a piece of the high-tech world goes with her in the form of a Thuraya satellite phone.

“One of the joys of my charity expeditions is getting to live a more simple life while exploring some remote and beautiful places,” says Polly, who is managing director of BKP Media Group in Dubai. “My Thuraya satphone fits perfectly into that life because it is light and compact and packs easily into my rucksack”.

However, there is nothing “simple” about the satphone she carries. The SatSleeve+ converts her iPhone into a satellite smartphone, so she can use it to make and receive calls, exchange messages and emails and access Facebook and other popular social media apps anywhere within the huge coverage area.

For her, the main benefit is being able to give her family daily updates on her safety and whereabouts. At camp at the end of every day she uses the satphone to send a message or to make a call, just to let them know she is all right.

“These expeditions are very well organized but there is always potential danger,” she says. “You could fall down and hurt yourself on the mountainside or get sick, so people at home do get worried. It’s reassuring for them to know I have the satphone and could use it to call for help in an emergency.”

This last point was proved emphatically on a G4G fundraising expedition to Myanmar in 2012. After the party accidentally became split, Polly found herself with a group that had no food or spare water. “The bus with the food and water had lost our location,” she says. “We were starving and dehydrated, and the ground handler couldn’t call the bus and direct the driver to us because we didn’t have a cellphone signal.

“I suggested using the Thuraya satphone and of course it had a signal even though we were in the remotest area. We called the bus and 10 minutes later we were drinking water and eating food. At that moment, Thuraya saved our lives.”

Fortunately this type of emergency is rare, but the satphone has often proved its worth in other ways. On an expedition to Mongolia with G4G in 2014, Polly recalls how her group had been cycling for several days close to the border with Siberia. At camp on day four she and her companions used the satphone to call home. “It was so comforting in the remote, wild country at night to be able to speak to my family, and I know that everyone else who called felt the same,” she says.

She used the satphone extensively on that trip to update the G4G website with photos of the Mongolian landscape and people, and to post to her own Facebook page. But on her trip to climb Kilimanjaro the same year it was the built-in SOS button that really caught her imagination. “It was like something out of a James Bond film,” she laughs. “We could have called for help automatically just by pressing that button. I’m glad we didn’t need to but it was great to have it.”

Polly had already come to  rely on her Thuraya satphone by the time she travelled to Myanmar. “There was some doubt about whether we should have satphones because the operating agreement for their use there was not quite finalised,” she says, “but I didn’t want to leave mine behind. I’m glad I took it because you lose your normal phone signal as soon as you enter Myanmar. Apart from the vital occasion when it came to our rescue, a lot of us used the satphone on that trip, often just for little things like calling to say ‘happy birthday’ or when someone’s relative had a baby.”

The next fundraising challenge is scheduled for April 2017, when Polly will travel to Nepal with a G4G group and climb to Annapurna base camp at a height of more than 4,000 metres. She has begun working to attract sponsorship and had already earmarked a SatSleeve+ for the trip. “There’s no way I would travel without it,” she says.

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So affordable and easy to use you might just forget it’s a satellite phone – the XT-LITE from Thuraya

One of the most persistent myths in telecomms is that all satellite phones are large, expensive and difficult to use.

In fact, some satphones look and operate almost like a cellphone and cost surprisingly little to buy and use, with no need for complex contracts.

For sheer affordability and ease of use, the market leader is the XT-LITE from Thuraya. This durable, lightweight device (just 186g) is quite simply the world’s best-value satellite phone.

What sets it apart? First, it is so simple to operate. It looks and feels familiar to anyone who has ever used a cellphone, with features such as speed dialling, address book, call logs and many others – very much like a GSM mobile.

But this is not a “basic” phone. The XT-LITE is a highly sophisticated device that makes the user’s life easier in numerous ways. For example, it will receive a call notification even with the satellite antenna stowed, so you need never miss a call, and the antenna is omni-directional, so you can walk and talk without “pointing” at the satellite. The menu supports 13 languages, while the battery provides up to six hours talk time and up to 80 hours in standby.

Second, handset costs are highly competitive and the airtime plans very flexible. Many Thuraya customers choose to purchase a pre-paid voice and data SIM, which gives them several easy options when it comes to topping up. Users can either call a toll-free number to top up, or recharge online or at 220,000 participating Western Union agent locations, using the Western Union® Quick PaySM service. Family and friends can also use the service to add pre-paid credit on behalf of a Thuraya user.

Above all, the popularity of the XT-LITE rests on the sheer quality and reliability of the Thuraya voice service. Thuraya’s satellite network covers approximately 160 countries, or two-thirds of the globe, and no matter where you are it is like making a call in your home town. That is mighty reassuring if you happen to be on top of a mountain or in the middle of a desert.

None of this will surprise long-term Thuraya users. The company is committed to making life easier for its customers and was the first mobile satellite operator to introduce a pre-paid voice service in 2002. Three years later, it was the first to introduce small, lightweight satphones –  the SO-2510 and the SG-2520. And in 2009 the XT series was the first to comply with IP54/IK03 standards of durability. No wonder Thuraya has already sold more than 850,000 satellite handhelds.

Forget the myth – satphones come in all shapes and sizes and are reasonably priced if you need the back-up of a lightweight phone that works in any location. If you want proof, check out the XT-LITE from Thuraya.

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Thuraya keeps Christian safe and connected as he travels 19,000km across Africa by motorbike

Thuraya was the “guardian angel” for a man who gave up his career as a lawyer to ride through 15 African countries on a motorbike.

Christian Ghammachi, who now lives in Dubai, had practised law in Cape Town for 18 years. During that time his interest in photography and motorbikes developed into twin passions, while his fascination with the continent of Africa grew ever stronger.

“Eventually the idea came to me for a road trip that would combine all the things I loved,” he said. “I decided to set out from Cape Town with as much photographic and video gear as I could carry to capture the beauty and mystery of the continent.”

Christian’s trip was potentially dangerous. Having dislocated his shoulder six months before in a motorbike accident, he was acutely aware of the risk of injury. He would be riding alone, often through sparsely populated country and on poor-quality roads. Sometimes the roads would run out and be replaced by dirt tracks.

It was essential to have some way of calling for help if anything went wrong, and that is where Thuraya stepped in. The company sponsored him by providing a Thuraya SatSleeve satellite phone and a Thuraya IP+ data terminal for use during the road trip. Not only would they help keep him safe, they also gave him the tools he needed to provide constant updates on social media.

The journey took Christian six months to complete as he wound his way for 19,000 kilometres from South Africa into Swaziland and on through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia – finishing in Djibouti.

“It was an incredible journey,” Christian says. “I got to dive in beautiful places, swim with humpback dolphins, sit with chimpanzees and gorillas in their natural habitats, play chicken with elephants and kiss a giraffe! I got to see Africa from the air thanks to Casper, my friendly drone, and watch wildlife for days and days during the most amazing safaris. I tried road food and found I actually love it.”

Christian carried Thuraya with him throughout all these wonderful experiences. The Thuraya IP+ was a daily companion, allowing him to upload photographs to his Facebook page and keep his 30,000 followers updated. He could do this from virtually any location – which led to an amusing incident towards the end of his journey.

“I was in Ethiopia and stopped for a rest at the roadside because I was getting tired,” he says. “I set up my Thuraya IP+ as usual to begin uploading and then fell asleep under a tree. When I woke up I was surrounded by five children who seemed to be trying to tell me something. Eventually one of them walked over to the IP+ and began pointing at it. It turned out they were cowherds and it was in the way of their herd. I moved it and they brought their cows through. I’m glad they asked, because I hate to think what might have happened to my data terminal!”

Christian used the Thuraya SatSleeve less frequently, but was relieved to have it to hand when a family emergency occurred. While travelling through Kenya, he received a WhatsApp message saying that his mother had been injured. He immediately took out the SatSleeve and called his family, eventually speaking to his mother who reassured him that although she had broken her shoulder she was ok. “That was an incredible relief,” says Christian. “Without the satphone it could have been hours or even days before I managed to make contact. As it was I could make the call at once. It was just like speaking to my mother from home on a regular phone.”

Many of the beautiful still and video images captured by Christian on his journey through Africa went on display in a dedicated exhibition in Dubai and are included in his documentary series, Two Wheels Across, which is available on YouTube.

“I couldn’t have done the journey in the same way without Thuraya,” Christian says. .“It gave me the freedom to roam, knowing I was able to stay constantly connected to my family and friends, and to anyone who cared to follow me. Thuraya really was my guardian angel.”

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