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Thuraya: 2013 holds a range of surprises for users of mobile satellite services - Daily News Egypt

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Thuraya: 2013 holds a range of surprises for users of mobile satellite services

Muiz Saad, vice president of distribution of Thuraya for Mobile Satellite Services, talks to Daily News Egypt about the company’s scope of operations and its expansion plan for 2013

Thuraya has been in Egypt since the late 1990s, offering satellite telecommunication solutions to a wide range of sectors that operate in remote areas where terrestrial networks are unavailable, as well as to those who are constantly on the move and require consistent and secure telecom channels that are not bound to a certain geography.

Operating through its two satellites, Thuraya 1 and Thuraya 2, the company’s coverage spans over 140 countries, holding 65% of the Middle East market share for mobile satellite services, and 85% of the Egyptian market.

Saad said: “Thuraya offers a range of competitive pricing plans including pre-paid, post-paid packages for voice services. They are the only mobile satellite operator to offer unlimited data pricing packages. Their voice minute rates start from 75 cents. Thuraya offers price plans for individuals as well as for a group of users called Shareplan. To add they provide price plans for asymmetric streaming, which means you pay for high-bandwidth uplink and not the return down channel downlink.”

Thuraya’s client base extends across several sectors, including government, the media, NGOs, the oil and gas sector and tourism.

The company offers products to the government in the areas of border control and marine service tailored to suit the nature of their operations that often extend to areas beyond the reach of terrestrial networks.

Due its reliable network and extensive reach, Thuraya provides many of the United Nations’ satellite telecommunication services, catering to the missions that necessitate across-border mobility and secure connectivity.

In areas of political unrest, armed conflict and natural disasters, where conventional telecom services are inconsistent or vulnerable, Thuraya’s services have proven to be fundamental in sharing and transferring confidential information by ensuring high levels of security and intractability.

Leading media organisations reporting from locations of political instability utilise Thuraya’s services as the company offers a highly advanced handset with walk-and-talk technology that facilitates the communication during movement, a feature usually taken for granted when discussing satellite telecommunication.

“Recently, the people of Syria experienced an internet outage for several days, cutting millions of people off from the outside world,” Saad said.  “Thuraya, the company that has the world’s largest subscriber base for mobile satellite handsets, has seen a rapid rise in demand for its products and services, particularly in the Middle East and Syria, as more people find themselves in need of secure, reliable methods of communicating with others.  Satellite communications are innately more secure than traditional terrestrial and GSM networks and Thuraya has taken further steps in re-configuring its satellite network to ensure all users to communicate safely, including the unique ability to turn off GPS markers.”

The petroleum industry is another sector where Thuraya’s services are essential. Given the remote locations in which oil and gas companies operate, a stable and secure telecommunication hub that provides voice and data services is paramount to the efficiency of operations.

For 2013, Thuraya plans to expand its outlets and its products will soon be available in RadioShack and Virgin Megastores. They company will soon unveil a “game changer product” in the areas of maritime services and media telecommunication in addition to lending more focus to individual clients.

Last month, Thuraya partnered with the Japanese SoftBank Mobile to bring its satellite services to Japan, catering to SoftBank users “venturing outside of terrestrial networks, or in areas where those networks are either unavailable or are vulnerable to natural disasters,” Saad said. “Media, energy, government, and all other types of enterprises, as well as individual consumers will be able to avail themselves of Thuraya’s services and a multitude of solutions to enable them to communicate from anywhere in Japan and the maritime areas surrounding it, and at any time.”

According to Thuraya, “the mobile satellite services industry is forecasting a flat to 2% growth in 2013.” However, Thuraya’s new campaign targets a 10% growth in 2013 and a double-digit increase in the next years to come. The company attributes these projections to the “strong growth in Asia and in the government sector,” in addition to strong potential in their other key markets that include media, oil and gas, and maritime which the company expects to catalyse demand for their data services.

“Thuraya’s data traffic grew by 27% year on year in 2012 and we are forecasting 53%growth in 2013,” Saad concluded.

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