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.