Thuraya wins Satellite Humanitarian of the Year award at Global SatShow

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 30 November 2016: Thuraya Telecommunications Company has won the Satellite Humanitarian of the Year, Satellite Industry Leader Award (SILA) at the second Global SatShow in Turkey. Samer Halawi, CEO of Thuraya, received the award on behalf of the company during a prestigious awards ceremony at the Haliç Congress Center, Istanbul. The award was presented by Hakan Kurt, CEO of the Global SatShow.

خلال احتفالات الثريا للاتصالات باليوم الوطني لدولة الإمارات:

29 نوفمبر 2016، دبي والشارقة: احتفلت شركة الثريا للاتصالات، الشركة الرائدة في مجال الاتصالات المتنقلة عبر الأقمار الصناعية، اليوم الثلاثاء (29 نوفمبر) باليوم الوطني لدولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة والذي سيصادف يوم الجمعة المقبل.

Atlas V • AFSPC-11

United Launch Alliance with their flagship Atlas V (551) will realize next mission for U.S. Air Force.  Rocket in 551 configuration will use 5 m wide payload fairing, five SRB boosters and single RL-10A engine installed in Centaur upper stage. As far as the main payload was not unveiled, we know that secondary payload will be ESPA Augmented Geostationary Laboratory Experiment (EAGLE) satellite. Satellite during its lasting 12 months mission will perform series of experiments devoted mainly for improving quality of imaging devices used  by remote sensing satellites.

Read more => Atlas V • AFSPC-11

Delta II • ICESat-2

Second mission of Delta II rocket in 2017 after planned launch of JPSS-1 satellite on March. ICESat-2 will measure thickness of ice sheets from LEO orbit using laser altimeter.  Made for NASA by Orbital Sciences Corporation will spent on orbit 3 years performing number of maneuvers using its four 22 N and eighth 4.5 N thrusters burning hydrazine. Designated orbit of ICESat-2 is 481 km x 481 km with inclination of 94°. Delta II rocket in  this mission will be utilized in 7920 configuration. Rocket is supported by nine GEM-40 boosters (each providing 492.2 kN of thrust). First stage is powered by RS-27A engine (thrust at 1054 kN) and second stage propulsion is AJ-10 engine with thrust at 43.6 kN. Boosters are fueled with HTPB, first stage by RP1/LOX and

Read more => Delta II • ICESat-2

Antares 230 • Cygnus OA-9

One from Orbital ATK in-house missions under CRS-1 contract. Antares 230 rocket with two new RD-181 engines and larger Castor 30XL second stage. Rocket will deliver Cygnus robotic cargo spacecraft with supplies for international Space Station. Orbital will utilize during this mission enhanced version of Cygnus able to deliver up to 3200 kg of payload with Antares 230 as launch vehicle.

Read more => Antares 230 • Cygnus OA-9

Rokot • Sentinel-3B

Launch of the Sentinel-3B was originally planned for March with Vega rocket. Mission was swapped with Sentinel-2B mission planned utilization of  Rockot launch vehicle probably in the end of the first half of 2017. Sentinel-3B is remote sensing satellite designed by Thales Alenia Space with utilization of Prima Bus. Spacecraft weighs around 1200 kg and is equipped with various observation devices, powered by two deployable solar arrays and onboard batteries. It will remain for at least 7 years on 815 km SSO orbit.

Read more => Rokot • Sentinel-3B

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,


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.

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.

Thuraya phones:                       

Gulf For Good: