Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2018-06-03

Driving Innovation in the Mobile Satellite Industry

Dubai-based Thuraya is a leading mobile satellite communications company that offers innovative, flexible and dependable technology facilitating reliable communications where and when it matters most. Thuraya’s global customers include industry leaders from a variety of sectors including military, energy, media, marine, government and NGOs. Nation Shield spoke to Thuraya Market Development Director, Fahad Kahoor, on the company’s latest launches and its impact across different sectors. Excerpts:
 
By: Sakha Pramod
 
Please tell us about the different functionalities of the Thuraya Tracking and Monitoring (T2M) Dual?
Recently, we launched the T2M service in conjunction with the T2M-DUAL terminal. A mobile, dual-mode device for superior machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and remote asset tracking and monitoring, the T2M-DUAL enables simultaneous collection of data from multiple points including location information, data from external sensors and peripheral devices, and input gathered from vehicle or heavy equipment CANBus.

The solution brings ease of integration to applications that are traditionally more complex to manage and monitor, such as vehicle tracking and fuel consumption, thereby resulting in operational efficiency.
 
A unique feature of the T2M is reading the vehicle CANBus. It is a protocol where you extract the vehicle information such as temperature, engine speed, etc., from the car computer and start sending it or exchanging it with the server. Basically, T2M will collect this information using the CANBus protocol and send the necessary data. 
 
It is designed for multiple sectors such as transportation, logistics, oil and gas, utilities, agriculture, and the mining sector. The device is a means to provide different services; it takes the tracking concept but also analyses it. 
 
We are currently pitching T2M to the government sector, so that its unique features can assist them in providing better services to the community. For example, T2M enables the closest dispatcher to get to an accident or incident site, rather than notifying someone who is five kilometres away.
 
Today, almost 99 per cent of companies whether they work in agriculture, utilities or even the police departments worldwide use 3G systems. But in some areas of the world 3G is not easily available. That’s when T2M comes in handy, as it has GSM and satellite. 
 
The new solution allows for the integration of any third-party applications and has several built-in smart features such as geo-fencing, network selection based on least cost routing, internal battery backup and location and sensor data. It is designed to support on-the-move M2M/IoT applications seamlessly on satellite and GSM networks, allowing for optimised connectivity based on the best available network, and is built to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
 
In 2017, Thuraya Aero was launched. How was it received in the market?
Thuraya Aero caters to the growing demand for in-flight connectivity. Developed as an in-flight communications system, it supports steady Internet access, voice calls, text messaging, and real-time, high-speed data applications such as video conferencing and aerial surveillance, on board small to medium-sized planes, as well as rotary wing aircraft.
A few months ago we signed an MoU with a company called SIT Sports to equip their rotary and fixed-wing fleets with Thuraya Aero products. SIT Sports works in the Iberian Peninsula, and provides radio avionics, tracking graphics, as well as aircraft to major sporting events. 
 
Furthermore, in November 2017, the Dutch aerospace services company, NL EASP Air, became the Thuraya Aero launch partner at the Dubai Airshow. Thuraya Aero has witnessed growing success since the announcement last year and multiple customers have already signed on to install and integrate the service on their fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft. 
 
Thuraya X5-Touch is said to be the smartest satellite phone. Why do you say that?
We recently unveiled the X5-Touch, the world’s first satellite smartphone. The device runs on the Android Operating System and has a 5.2” full HD touchscreen. It targets users who frequently move in and out of terrestrial coverage across a range of market sectors including government missions, energy projects, enterprise communications, and NGO deployments. The phone offers fast connectivity on the move, in remote areas normally beyond the reach of smartphones.
 
The X5-Touch is a step closer towards complete convergence between terrestrial and satellite communications through its full dual-mode and dual-SIM capability. It has two SIM-card slots for full user flexibility, and with the dual-active mode it has the ability to have both its satellite and GSM (2G, 3G, or 4G) modes ‘always on’ simultaneously. It is the only satellite phone that runs on the Android operating system in the world. No other satellite phone has such a feature.
 
To cater for the needs of users in harsh and remote conditions, the X5-Touch comes with a Gorilla glass display and is a rugged phone with full dust and water protection. It also has a host of advanced functionalities including a high-capacity battery for extended talk time and standby time, a built-in SOS button and a front and rear camera. For a satellite phone to have front and rear camera is very unique. It is the only phone in the market with such capabilities. It will be available from Q4 2018. 
 
Plus, the X5-Touch addresses the government requirements. When there is an opportunity for specific military or defence applications, our products including the X5 Touch can be customised or tailor-made for the customer.
 
The advanced omnidirectional satellite antenna on the X5 Touch ensures uninterrupted communications, offering seamless walk-and-talk functionality even in satellite mode. Thuraya’s comprehensive satellite network provides clear and uninterrupted communications in more than 161 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia; and in terrestrial mode the Thuraya X5-Touch supports most 2G/3G/4G frequencies across the world. 
 
Sometime ago you opened an office in the US. Have you made any forays into other countries since then?
Thuraya is an international company with a strategic presence worldwide. We have 24/7 customer care services, cover 161 countries, but also have presence outside that coverage. 
We have international presence that spans most of the globe. Our teams are available in North America, Africa, Asia and Europe as well as MENA. We have no requirements for additional physical offices because we also have a very large network of partners and service providers who represent us in more than 140 countries.  
 
Today, our offices in the UAE cater to the MENA market, and our sales office in Singapore serves APAC and the Australian market. The office in the U.S. caters to the defence sector, and government customers. 
 
Our international offices also have local staff, so that they can communicate in the same language and understand local cultures. 
 
This year Yahsat, the UAE-based satellite operator, acquired majority stake in Thuraya. How will this acquisition help Yahsat?
Yahsat’s recent acquisition will significantly expand its current satellite solutions portfolio for commercial and government verticals, as well as its global footprint. The transition is still in the early stages but it is going in the right direction.
 
 

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