Thuraya Telecommunications Company has joined the LoRa Alliance™, supporting its mission to standardize Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) deployed around the world.

The LoRa Alliance was launched in 2015 to define and promote a low power, secure, carrier grade standard for low power wide area Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. It aims to enable IoT, machine-to-machine (M2M), smart-city and industrial applications, and has already generated high levels of interest and participation in its first 18 months of existence. End users will now be able to implement LoRaWAN™ technology over Thuraya's network.

Thuraya M2M Product Manager, Marwan Joudeh said: "We want to take every opportunity to grow our M2M/IoT presence, so we are pleased to join the LoRa Alliance. Membership gives the telecom company access to an excellent ecosystem of developers and solution providers. This way of working will encourage the mass adoption of low cost, long range IoT/machine-to-machine connectivity while extending the range of such solutions through our robust satellite network into remote and rural areas. This is a key advantage for applications covering the energy and utilities, logistics, agriculture and security sectors. The Thuraya team is looking forward to exploring the breadth of opportunities this will generate, and we also want to offer our own expertise to help foster further innovation."

LoRa Alliance members share knowledge and experience to deliver end to end IoT solutions including sensors, gateways, connectivity and applications. This collaboration with one another is designed to drive the global success of LoRaWAN™, the protocol that offers bi-directionality, security, mobility for asset tracking, and accurate localization.

The LoRaWAN™, offers interoperability and security for network operators deploying large multi-tenanted open networks running multiple applications as well as private networks. Entire cities or countries can be covered with a few base stations, no longer requiring the upfront rollout and maintenance of thousands of nodes as in traditional mesh networking, and therefore minimizing investment.

Joudeh said: "Membership of the LoRa Alliance adds further momentum to Thuraya's M2M presence. Standardization generates volume, and the methodology and approach of the LoRa Alliance will help us develop long term opportunities on a significant scale. Thuraya will develop an extensive M2M presence, and this is a key element of our exciting FUTURA next generation capability plans."

Thuraya's robust secure two-way communications M2M network enables M2M and IoT application deployment beyond the confines of traditional cellular networks. By joining the alliance, Thuraya is looking to expand its solutions offering in areas such as rural IoT and M2M connectivity, smart agriculture, water management, smart metering, weather and asset monitoring.

Thuraya Telecommunications hosted a delegation from NASA at its primary gateway office in Sharjah.

Organized in conjunction with the UAE Space Agency, the visit was an opportunity to showcase Thuraya's communication and satellite network systems, helping to demonstrate the country's satellite capabilities.

The NASA party, led by Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, was given a guided tour by Thuraya chief technology officer, Ahmed Al Shamsi. The guests were shown the operations control center, the antennas serving Thuraya's satellites and were given a detailed presentation to Thuraya's network and portfolio of products and services.

Having seen Thuraya's facilities first hand, the visitors also discussed potential collaboration, exploring future opportunities to work together.

Speaking at the end of the visit, Younes said: "Today's visit was a great opportunity to see just how much Thuraya has grown in recent years, and to establish key points of contact. We enjoyed our discussions together here today. Thuraya has historically provided many agencies with tremendous servicesupport, and we at NASA would like to work together closely too in support of our planned cooperation with the UAE Space Agency."

The guest party also included Judith E. Baker, vice consul and economic affairs officer at the Consulate General of the United States of America. They were welcomed by Amal Ezzeddine, Thuraya senior director, Government Services, and Mubarak Al Ahbabi, UAE Space Agency senior specialist, system and program.

Ezzeddine said: "It is a pleasure to support the UAE Space Agency. We have shown the strength of our current capabilities here in the UAE, and around the world, and it is exciting to discuss ideas with our guests from NASA. This was an excellent opportunity to understand how Thuraya can work together in the future with NASA. We look forward to more meetings to come, and the innovation that will come from the collaborative relationship we are developing with one another."

Leading mobile satellite services (MSS) operator Thuraya Telecommunications recently unveiled a new generation of SatSleeve models. When SatSleeve was launched in 2013 it pioneered the "bring your own device" (BYOD) concept in the satellite industry. Now Thuraya goes further with two new models, and has identified a clear consumer target market for the range, running alongside core government, media, energy and NGO sectors. Telecom Review spoke to Thuraya's Chief Executive Office, Samer Halawi about the latest products, GITEX and what Thuraya is getting up to elsewhere around the globe.

Could you tell me a bit about what you are showcasing and promoting at GITEX?
We're delighted to be showcasing the new generation of SatSleeve models at this year's GITEX, SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot. The two new models offer greater choice, improved quality and a new hotspot option.

SatSleeve+ features a new voice routing system that improves on the sound quality, and can be used with a much wider range of smartphone models than before. It comes with a universal smartphone adaptor, allowing its users to switch between handsets. So if you own more than one smartphone, you do not need to buy additional kit.

As the name suggests, SatSleeve Hotspot creates a portable satellite WiFi hotspot, giving people satellite connectivity without having to physically dock their smartphone to a unit. This gives you freedom to move indoors. The SatSleeve Hotspot is the smallest, lightest and most capable in the industry.

The choice of format is up to each individual end user. Both models allow you to make calls, use messaging applications, update your social network, send and receive email and SMS, and access apps.

They also come with an additional safety feature - a programmable SOS button that works even if your smartphone isn't connected. This convenient function lets customers call a predefined number of their choice. So we can help to keep people safe. That's very much in keeping with our philosophy as a company. Our purpose at Thuraya is to save and improve lives.

Who is the target market for the SatSleeve+ and the SatSleeve Hotspot?
We have a number of different target markets for our new model SatSleeves. Significantly, we have identified a clear consumer target market, running alongside our core government, media, energy and NGO sectors.

That's because SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot appeal to travelers, adventurers and outdoor sportspeople. They also appeal to consumers who want the assurance that their smartphone will connect even when terrestrial networks are unavailable or damaged.

We will market SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot through our existing distribution partners, and we are also developing innovative agreements in key markets - although the details of these agreements must stay under wraps. We are also developing new channels, generated through our groundbreaking agreement with the online retailer Expansys, which takes Thuraya to a pan-European consumer audience.

Was there a demand for a newer model or what was the reason behind it?
When SatSleeve was launched in 2013, it pioneered the "bring your own device" (BYOD) concept in the Satcom industry, but we didn't stop there. As a company, we wanted to continue to innovate and improve, taking SatSleeve to the next level by extending its range and widening its appeal. SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot offer double the choice too, allowing people to select their own preferred format.

At Thuraya, innovation never stops. We have pioneered many firsts in the mobile satellite services industry, and we have created some of the world's smallest, smartest, most durable and most secure mobile communications devices. XT-PRO was launched earlier this year, for instance, and is the world's most advanced satellite phone.

How many years have you been participating in GITEX?
Thuraya started operations right here in the United Arab Emirates, in 1997. Since then, we have participated at GITEX 15 times already, and we are delighted to be here again in 2015.

How does an exhibition such as this benefit your company?
The Middle East is our home market, and it remains a key growth area for us. This is where it all began for Thuraya. Our future plans will show this remains an important part of the world for us, as we find new ways to reach our key target markets.

GITEX is a great platform because it allows us to display our new products and services. We are definitely on track to expand our presence throughout the region, and GITEX is an excellent springboard to help deliver our strategy. We want to build upon momentum already established over the year from major new product launches, new markets, and new routes to customers and end users. That's not just here in the UAE, but in other key parts of the world too, such as Asia and Africa.

What do you hope to achieve from this year's show?
We are looking forward to catching up with both our service partners and end users based in the region. This is a great chance for us to show people what we offer, and to let them get in touch with some of our technology for themselves. It's also important to remember that the opportunity to meet people face to face is as powerful today as it has ever been - however advanced our technology has become.

GITEX also serves as a showcase for our new SatSleeve models, and we are looking forward to the response they will generate here.

Can you tell me what else you are doing in the region at the moment or in the near future?
The near future will have to wait, but please be patient: very soon you will be able to see how we are finding exciting new ways to reach people who haven't yet enjoyed our products and services.  We have dramatically expanded our distribution capability - again, not just here in the Middle East, but in Asia and Africa too. We have experienced triple digit growth in Asia alone, for example, which can be attributed to partnerships we have built in a stronger service partner network and a greater level of activity on the ground.

We have also certified a multitude of industry solutions which, together with our Thuraya product line, allow us to deliver complete end to end services for key market sectors.

As far as the future goes, we have an exciting product innovation and solutions roadmap with compelling offerings for end-users across our maritime, media, relief, government and energy sectors. We will be announcing plans for each of these as they are confirmed.

Does Thuraya have any involvement or plans involving wearable technology?
Technology is developing in many different areas at once, and we could talk about the potential opportunities for hours. There's wearable technology out there for sure, but developments in M2M satellite services go far beyond that. So we can look ahead to new opportunities across areas like telemedicine, connected cars and fundamentally important projects here in the Middle East.

For instance, Thuraya M2M helps Zencus to monitor remote oil field operations in this region, using our streaming M2M satellite services - especially useful for remote sites where there is no existing communication infrastructure.

Helping the developing world has become increasingly important for tech companies recently, with many pledging to get poorer areas connected and everyone online. Does Thuraya have any involvement in the developing world? If not, is it something they would look into in the future?
As urban dwellers, we often overlook the role of satellite technology in providing vital communication links to remote areas where terrestrial networks are unavailable or out of reach. Despite the rollout of terrestrial networks to many parts of the world, there are many regions that remain unconnected, which rely on satellite connectivity.

Satellite communications is quite simply the best option to connect rural and remote areas because it is immune to disruption. The satellite itself provides blanket coverage, whether you're in a city or in the most remote of locations, and most of the communication equipment is easy to deploy. All Thuraya products are plug and play, and they are easy to carry.

During disasters, we dispatch through service providers (distributors), UN relief agencies, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), or through the ITU or FITTEST WFP teams, and many others NGOs as well as governments.

Our support for SOS Children's Villages, for instance, has shown how technology can overcome displacement caused by conflict. Moreover, establishing effective communications to rural areas also brings people into contact with medical support, food and emergency communications. Our IP+ terminals are used to connect telemedicine units with satellite communication, sending and receiving reports and information about patients and diseases.

Thuraya Telecommunications Company has developed a 75MB bundle plan adding to its list of flexible, value-for-money voice and data bundles and zero up-front fees on hardware.

With the maritime sector enduring financial pressures, end-users can now take advantage of Thuraya's tailor-made communication packages without the worry of over-spending on company budgets - thanks to the new 75MB data bundles which include three convenient options.

Thuraya's Product Manager, Maritime, Keith Murray said: "Ship owners and managers were stuck between a rock and a hard place, but we're now offering them a real choice. Our new bundles will help companies save money from the offset without compromising on quality. Thuraya's 75MB bundle plans are designed for those whose only previous options have been to buy a low-end plan, while having to use expensive out-of-bundle data, or a 250MB plan where you pay for data from other suppliers that you end up not using."

These latest maritime broadband bundles come at a time when maritime users are increasingly cost-conscious, and the need for quality data connectivity at cheaper rates is of vital importance. The new bundle plans complement existing Thuraya plans, which offer flexible contracts and unlimited plans, ensuring best-in-class rates for broadband data.

The three bundles range from SIM-only, to Orion IP and SF2500 hardware bundles - available on both 12 and 24-month contracts. These innovative packages are built for end-users at a time when the maritime communications landscape is experiencing rapid change.

"We have provided more choice for our customers by offering bundle plans that are both affordable and flexible," Murray said. "Whether users need voice or data packages, our quality, consistent communications services meet the essential needs of the maritime environment."

The Thuraya network offers the best-in-class data rates for L-band satellites currently available to maritime users and the service is world-renowned in the voice segment for its quality, consistency, and coverage continuity.

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Telecom Review Summit 2016

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Feb 2017

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