Thuraya considering cut in usage charges

DUBAI - Thuraya Satellite Communication Company, is seriously weighing the proposal of cutting down its per minute usage charges, according to a senior Thuraya official. The new rates will be announced very soon following the completion of studies and research the company is working on.

By Kt Exclusive By Ibrahim Taha

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Published: Mon 28 Jun 2004, 9:56 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:19 AM

In an exclusive Interview with Khaleej Times, Mohammed Omran, Chairman of Thuraya, said the company is an industry leader in terms of affordability of satellite handsets and per minute usage cost.

The company has for the first time since its inception three years ago, achieved a net profit of $38 million in the 2003. The company's revenues from service were around $50 million.

"Our key objective is to cut down charges to expand our services around the globe and become the connectivity platform through our cost-effective satellite-based mobile telephone services reaching nearly one third of the globe," said Omran.

Thuraya's project cost of $1.1 billion for a geosynchronous orbit is relatively reasonable if compared to other systems with much greater capital expenditure. The lowered outlay cost provides the basis for Thuraya's competitiveness in the market, said Omran.

He said, that despite the fact that the company was in its establishing stages, it has managed to attract more than 200,000 subscribers to date, with many in the pipeline around the globe.

Omran denied rumours that Libya has withdrawn from the consortium of telecommunications operators and international investment houses formed seven years ago. "Libya is still strong partner of the project," confirmed Omran. He added that for the time being the company was not planning to go public, since it belongs to governments in the Arab world.

"Yet the company is opting to expand its activities in Africa which will lead to more profits and more subscribers in the near future who are currently 200,000 members plus 10,000 GSM users.

"Thuraya had not been subjected to any formal interrogation by any government or international organisations in connection with the manipulation of the satellite communications devices in connection with kidnappings, hostages or military operations," Omran said. He said that the service was used by Iraqi citizens resident in the UAE to communicate with their families during the USA invasion of Iraq.

Talking about the fault that affected Thuraya first satellite in September 2001, he said that the problem occurred because the life span of the satellite was technically over, however, the manufacturing and insurance bodies paid a sum of $250 million in compensation to Thuraya.

On the volume of Thuraya investments, he said that the firm's capital is recorded at $500 million, and that it had acquired funds amounting to $400 million in addition to $35 million it would receive at the end of the current month, besides other funds. The company is expected to achieve a balance between its revenues and expenditures by the end of 2004.

On the reasons for limited operations of Thuraya in the UAE, he said that in UAE, Thuraya's position is merely that of a supportive system to the GSM network and that is why the company sales are concentrated in countries, which do not use GMS, the system, like African nations. He said that the company had signed contracts with various countries including Sudan, Kenya, Cameroun, Nigeria and Chad. Other agreements with other countries will also be concluded in future in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tanzania, Congo and Mozambique.

He said the company needed to change its partners from time to time in order to adapt itself to the new technology, which meets users demands in terms of prices and efficiency.

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