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Thuraya Telecommunications Company
Industry Satellite phone network operations
Founded 1997
Headquarters United Arab Emirates
Key people
CEO Samer Halawi

Thuraya (Arabic: الثريا‎‎, pronounced [aθːuˈrajːa]), from the Arabic name for the constellation of the Pleiades, "Thurayya",[1] is a regional mobile satellite phone provider. The company is based in the United Arab Emirates; it provides mobile coverage to more than 110 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North, Central and East Africa, Asia and Australia.[2]

With about 350 roaming partners worldwide, Thuraya also offers GSM roaming services over land-based mobile GSM networks. As well, Thuraya sells a dual mode satellite phone with both GSM and satellite capabilities.

The company is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates. Its shareholders consist of investment companies, Middle Eastern and North African telcos; Etisalat is a major shareholder.


  • Voice communications with satellite phones or fixed terminals
  • Short message service
  • 60 kbit/s downlink and 15 kbit/s uplink "GMPRS" mobile data service on Thuraya satellite phones
  • 144 kbit/s high-speed data transfer via a notebook-sized terminal (ThurayaDSL)
  • A number of other services, such as call waiting, missed calls, voicemail, etc.
  • A one-way 'high power alert' capability that notifies users of an incoming call, when the signal path to the satellite is obstructed (e.g., inside a building)

Technical details of the network

Virtual country code

Thuraya's country calling code is +882 16, which is part of the ITU-T International Networks numbering group. Thuraya is not part of the +881 country calling code numbering group as this is allocated by ITU-T for networks in the Global Mobile Satellite System, of which Thuraya is not a part, being a regional rather than a global system.

Air interface

Transceivers communicate directly with the satellites using an antenna of roughly the same length as the handset and have a maximum output power of 2 Watts. QPSK modulation is used for the air interface. Thuraya SIM cards will work in regular GSM telephones and ordinary GSM SIM cards can be used on the satellite network as long as the GSM provider has a roaming agreement with Thuraya. As with all geosynchronous voice services a noticeable lag is present while making a call.

Due to the relatively high gain of the antennas contained within handsets, it is necessary to roughly aim the antenna at the satellite. As the handsets contain a GPS receiver it is possible to program the ground position of the satellites as waypoints to assist with aiming.

Use of GPS

Every Thuraya phone and standalone transceiver unit is fitted with a GPS receiver and transmits its location to the Thuraya gateway periodically.[3][4] The built-in GPS capability can be used for waypoint navigation.


Thuraya 2 and a second nearby geostationary satellite, photographed on 8 December 2010 from the Netherlands

Thuraya operates two communications satellites built by Boeing.

Thuraya 1

The first satellite, named Thuraya 1, had deficient solar panels and could not operate properly; this satellite was positioned above Korea for testing purposes. It was launched on 21 October 2000 by SeaLaunch on a Zenit 3SL rocket.[5] At launch it weighed 5250 kg.[6] The satellite was used for testing and backup until May 2007, when it was moved to junk orbit and declared at its end of life.[7]

Thuraya 2

Thuraya 2 was launched by SeaLaunch on 10 June 2003.[8] It is located in geosynchronous orbit at 44° E longitude, inclined at 6.3 degrees.[9] The satellite can handle 13,750 simultaneous voice calls. This satellite currently serves most of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia. The craft had a weight of 3200 kg and an expected life of 12 years. The two solar-panel wings, each containing five panels, generate 11 KW electric power (at end of life). The craft has two antenna systems: a round C-band antenna, 1.27 meters in diameter and a 12 × 16 meter AstroMesh reflector, 128 element L-band antenna, supplied by Astro Aerospace in Carpenteria, CA. These antennas support up to 351 separate spot beams, each configurable to concentrate power where usage needs it.[10]

Thuraya 3

The third satellite was planned for launch by SeaLaunch in Q1 2007, and the start of Far East and Australia service was planned for 15 October 2007. The failure in January 2007 of the NSS-8 rocket led to a substantial delay in the launch of Thuraya-3, which was rescheduled for 14 November 2007, but the launch was postponed several times due to sea conditions.[11] The launch vessels set out from port again on 2 January 2008, and launch occurred successfully at 11:49 GMT on 15 January 2008.[12][13] The Thuraya 3 satellite is technically the same as Thuraya 2, but located in geosynchronous orbit at 98.5° E longitude, inclined at 6.2 degrees.

Subscriber hardware


  • Ascom 21 - First generation handset, monochrome display, 9600 bit/s dial-up data, GSM900 compatible
  • Hughes 7100 - First generation handset, monochrome display, 9600 bit/s dial-up data, GSM900 compatible
  • Hughes 7101 - Functionally identical to Hughes 7100 but with added Wireless application protocol support
  • Thuraya SO-2510 - Second generation handset, supports GmPRS (60/15 kbit/s), runs VxWorks
  • Thuraya SG-2520 - Second generation handset, supports GmPRS (60/15 kbit/s), runs Windows Mobile, GSM900/1800 compatible
  • Thuraya XT - Third generation handset, supports GmPRS
  • Thuraya XT-DUAL - Third generation handset, supports GmPRS, GSM900/1800/1900
  • Thuraya XT-PRO - Third generation handset, supports GmPRS
  • Thuraya XT-LITE - Third generation handset, no packet data support


  • SatSleeve for Android
  • SatSleeve for iPhone

See also


  1. "Arabic stars: Stellarium Wiki".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Prösch, Roland; Daskalaki-Prösch, Aikaterini (2011). Technical Handbook for Radio Monitoring VHF/UHF: Edition 2011. Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand GmbH.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "XSAT USA plays role in recent K2 mountain rescue". Retrieved 2012-01-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Electronic Weapons". 2003-04-24. Retrieved 2012-01-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Thuraya 1". NSSDC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Thuraya-1 Complete System for Mobile Communications". Boeing.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. TBS info on Thuraya 1, visited on July 12, 2008
  8. "Thuraya 2". NSSDC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Sea Launch Past Launches Thuraya-2". Boeing.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Thuraya 2 and 3 info on Boeing website
  11. "Current Mission: Thuraya-3". Sea Launch.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Sea Launch Continues Thuraya-3 Mission". SeaLaunch.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Sea Launch Delivers Thuraya-3 Satellite to Orbit". Sea Launch.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links