Thuraya set to launch its third satellite into orbit in October

DUBAI — Thuraya, the satellite-based mobile telephone company headquartered in Abu Dhabi, is set to send its third satellite into orbit on October 15 and will launch this year a maritime communications technology solution, including a handset, and a high-capacity data terminal for computers.

By Jose Franco

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Published: Sun 8 Jul 2007, 8:53 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:16 PM

Sultan Al Ghafli, the company's chief commercial officer, said the satellite, built by Boeing Satellite Systems and is now packed and in storage, costs between Dh551 million to Dh734.62 million ($150-$200 million). He said it would be launched from Earth's equator in the Pacific Ocean, the nearest landmass to which is the Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

He said, meanwhile, that Thuraya would sign service provider (SP) agreements with a telecom company in Australia this month to provide ground services to mobile phone subscribers via the third Thuraya satellite, which weighs over five metric tonnes and will be fully operational after two months of testing.

He added that more SPs would be signed with companies in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia by the end of the year. "We hope we shall be communicating with them soon and talk about the basic components of the marketing plan and campaign," Ghafli said.

In April, Thuraya signed SPs with South Korea's Asia-Pacific Satellite Industries Co. Ltd. and China's China Satellite Communications Global Ltd., which is based in Beijing. China Satellite is a subsidiary of the government-owned China Satcom, the biggest of the six main telecom operators in China and the fourth biggest in the world.

Ghafli said his company will also launch Thuraya Maritime next month and Thuraya IP by the end of this year. The former is a second-generation communications technology package, to be used widely by fishing boats in China and by leisure boats owned by other subscribers, while the latter is a USB (universal serial bus) connector data terminal with a speed of 444 kbps (kilobit per second).

USB is a serial bus standard to interface devices, allowing hot swapping (connecting and disconnecting devices without rebooting the computer) while kbps is the unit of data transfer rate equal to 1,000 bits per second.

Ghafli said Thuraya, which services one-third of the globe, hopes to double its current subscribers of 250,000 three years after the launch of its third satellite, which is a clone of Thuraya-2. Thuraya-1 and Thuraya-2 were sent into orbit via sea-launch rockets from the Pacific Ocean on October 21, 2000 and June 10, 2003, respectively. An official of Boeing Satellite Development Centre in Southern California was quoted earlier as saying that Thuraya-3 measures 113-ft long and weighs 5,250 kilogrammes. It also has high speed alerting capabilities with position-based services.

Thuraya recently opened a permanent office in Singapore as part of the expansion of commercial services to the 21-country Asia-Pacific region. "The office covers Thuraya's sales and marketing campaign from beyond Bangladesh...all the way to Australia," Ghafli said.

Last month, the company introduced ThurayaECO, which was actually a re-launch of Thuraya's mobile satellite services with rates as low as 70 per cent compared to those applied in 81 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

The other product launched recently was Thuraya SG-2520, the world's smartest and smallest dual-mode satellite mobile phone that is tri-band and offers Internet access and fax capability, and various other advanced features.

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