Last updated
Thuraya Telecommunications Company
Industry Mobile-satellite services
Founded1997;26 years ago (1997)
HeadquartersUnited Arab Emirates

Thuraya (Arabic : الثريا, Gulf Arabic pron.: [ɐθ.θʊˈrɑj.jɐ] ; from the Arabic name for the constellation of the Pleiades, Thurayya) [1] is a United Arab Emirates-based regional mobile-satellite service (MSS) provider. The company operates two geosynchronous satellites and provides telecommunications coverage in more than 161 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North, Central and East Africa, Asia and Australia. [2] Thuraya's L-band network delivers voice and data services.


Thuraya is the mobile satellite services subsidiary of Yahsat, a global satellite operator based in the United Arab Emirates, fully owned by Mubadala Investment Company.[ citation needed ] The geostationary nature of the service implies high round trip times from satellite to earth leading to a noticeable lag being present during voice calls.


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 SIM 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. The service operates on L-band carriers assigned in blocks to areas of coverage referred to as "spotbeams", which are Thuraya's equivalent to cells or service areas. In L-band, 34 MHz of bandwidth from 1.525 GHz to 1.559 GHz is assigned for downlink (space-to-earth) communication, while the uplink (earth-to-space) operates between 1.6265 GHz and 1.6605 GHz. Uplink and downlink channels are 1087 paired carrier frequencies, on a raster of 31.25 kHz. A Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) time slot architecture is employed which allocates a carrier in timeslots of a fixed length.[ citation needed ]

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 nearby geostationary satellite, photographed on 8 December 2010 from the Netherlands USA202 Thuraya2.jpg
Thuraya 2 and a 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 Sea Launch 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 Sea Launch 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. 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 Carpinteria, California. These antennas support up to 351 separate spot beams, each configurable to concentrate power where usage needs it. [10] Amateur astronomer observations suspected the nearby MENTOR 4 USA-202, a satellite belonging to the US National Reconnaissance Office, was eavesdropping on Thuraya 2 and this was reported to be confirmed by documents released on 9 September 2016 [11] by The Intercept as part of the Snowden files. [12]

Thuraya 3

The third satellite was planned for launch by Sea Launch in 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 mission on another Sea Launch 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. [13] The launch vessels set out from port again on 2 January 2008, and launch occurred successfully at 11:49 GMT on 15 January 2008. [14] [15] 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.

Thuraya 4-NGS

Thuraya 4-NGS (Next Generation Satellite) [16] is a planned satellite that is currently scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2024. [17] [18] It will replace Thuraya 2. [19]

Subscriber hardware



Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">GSM</span> Cellular telephone network standard

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets. GSM is also a trade mark owned by the GSM Association. GSM may also refer to the Full Rate voice codec.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">General Packet Radio Service</span> Packet oriented mobile data service on 2G and 3G

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), also called 2.5G, is a packet oriented mobile data standard on the 2G cellular communication network's global system for mobile communications (GSM). GPRS was established by European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in response to the earlier CDPD and i-mode packet-switched cellular technologies. It is now maintained by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard. Developed and maintained by the 3GPP, UMTS is a component of the International Telecommunication Union IMT-2000 standard set and compares with the CDMA2000 standard set for networks based on the competing cdmaOne technology. UMTS uses wideband code-division multiple access (W-CDMA) radio access technology to offer greater spectral efficiency and bandwidth to mobile network operators.

The Ku band is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum in the microwave range of frequencies from 12 to 18 gigahertz (GHz). The symbol is short for "K-under", because it is the lower part of the original NATO K band, which was split into three bands because of the presence of the atmospheric water vapor resonance peak at 22.24 GHz, (1.35 cm) which made the center unusable for long range transmission. In radar applications, it ranges from 12 to 18 GHz according to the formal definition of radar frequency band nomenclature in IEEE Standard 521–2002.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ultra high frequency</span> Electromagnetic spectrum 300–3000 MHz

Ultra high frequency (UHF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies in the range between 300 megahertz (MHz) and 3 gigahertz (GHz), also known as the decimetre band as the wavelengths range from one meter to one tenth of a meter. Radio waves with frequencies above the UHF band fall into the super-high frequency (SHF) or microwave frequency range. Lower frequency signals fall into the VHF or lower bands. UHF radio waves propagate mainly by line of sight; they are blocked by hills and large buildings although the transmission through building walls is strong enough for indoor reception. They are used for television broadcasting, cell phones, satellite communication including GPS, personal radio services including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, walkie-talkies, cordless phones, satellite phones, and numerous other applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Very-small-aperture terminal</span> Satellite communication system with small dish antenna

A very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT) is a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna that is smaller than 3.8 meters. The majority of VSAT antennas range from 75 cm to 1.2 m. Bit rates, in most cases, range from 4 kbit/s up to 16 Mbit/s. VSATs access satellites in geosynchronous orbit or geostationary orbit to relay data from small remote Earth stations (terminals) to other terminals or master Earth station "hubs".

Globalstar, Inc. is an American satellite communications company that operates a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation for satellite phone and low-speed data communications. The Globalstar second-generation constellation consists of 25 low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites.

Personal Digital Cellular (PDC) was a 2G mobile telecommunications standard used exclusively in Japan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Satellite phone</span> Type of mobile phone

A satellite telephone, satellite phone or satphone is a type of mobile phone that connects to other phones or the telephone network by radio link through satellites orbiting the Earth instead of terrestrial cell sites, as cellphones do. Therefore, they can work in most geographic locations on the Earth's surface, as long as open sky and the line-of-sight between the phone and the satellite are provided. Depending on the architecture of a particular system, coverage may include the entire Earth or only specific regions. Satellite phones provide similar functionality to terrestrial mobile telephones; voice calling, text messaging, and low-bandwidth Internet access are supported through most systems. The advantage of a satellite phone is that it can be used in such regions where local terrestrial communication infrastructures, such as landline and cellular networks, are not available.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Satellite Internet access</span> Satellite-provided Internet

Satellite Internet access or Satellite Broadband is Internet access provided through communication satellites. Modern consumer grade satellite Internet service is typically provided to individual users through geostationary satellites that can offer relatively high data speeds, with newer satellites using Ku band to achieve downstream data speeds up to 506 Mbit/s. In addition, new satellite internet constellations are being developed in low-earth orbit to enable low-latency internet access from space.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tracking and data relay satellite</span> American communications satellite

A tracking and data relay satellite (TDRS) is a type of communications satellite that forms part of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) used by NASA and other United States government agencies for communications to and from independent "User Platforms" such as satellites, balloons, aircraft, the International Space Station, and remote bases like the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. This system was designed to replace an existing worldwide network of ground stations that had supported all of NASA's crewed flight missions and uncrewed satellites in low-Earth orbits. The primary system design goal was to increase the amount of time that these spacecraft were in communication with the ground and improve the amount of data that could be transferred. These TDRSS satellites are all designed and built to be launched to and function in geosynchronous orbit, 35,786 km (22,236 mi) above the surface of the Earth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inmarsat</span> British satellite communications company

Inmarsat is a British satellite telecommunications company, offering global mobile services. It provides telephone and data services to users worldwide, via portable or mobile terminals which communicate with ground stations through fifteen geostationary telecommunications satellites.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boeing 702</span>

Boeing 702 is a communication satellite bus family designed and manufactured by the Boeing Satellite Development Center, and flown from the late-1990s into the 2020s. It covers satellites massing from 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) to 6,100 kg (13,400 lb) with power outputs from 3 to 18 kW and can carry up to approximately 100 high-power transponders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Advanced Extremely High Frequency</span> Series of American military satellites

Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) is a constellation of communications satellites operated by the United States Space Force. They are used to relay secure communications for the United States Armed Forces, the British Armed Forces, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Netherlands Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force. The system consists of six satellites in geostationary orbits. The final satellite was launched on 26 March 2020. AEHF is backward compatible with, and replaces, the older Milstar system and will operate at 44 GHz uplink and 20 GHz downlink. The AEHF system is a joint service communications system that provides survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets.

The SACI-2 was a Brazilian experimental satellite, designed and built by the Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE). It was launched on 11 December 1999 from the INPE base in Alcântara, Maranhão, by the Brazilian VLS-1 V02 rocket. Due to failure of its second stage, the rocket veered off course and had to be destroyed 3 minutes and 20 seconds after launch.

The Intelsat VI series of satellites were the 8th generation of geostationary communications satellites for the Intelsat Corporation. Designed and built by Hughes Aircraft Company (HAC) in 1983-1991, there were five VI-series satellites built: 601, 602, 603, 604, and 605.

TerreStar Networks, a majority owned subsidiary of TerreStar Corporation (TSTR), is a next generation, wholesale mobile communications provider launching the first integrated satellite terrestrial service with the world's first satellite-terrestrial smartphone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">SES Broadband for Maritime</span>

SES Broadband for Maritime is a two-way satellite broadband Internet service for use on private boats and commercial ships throughout European waters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Es'hail 2</span>

Es'hail 2 is a Qatari satellite, launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on November 15, 2018. Es'hail 2 was built by Japan's Mitsubishi Electric company, and operates at 26° East longitude along a geostationary orbit to provide direct-to-home television services in the Middle East and North Africa region. The satellite features 24 Ku-band and 11 Ka-band transponders to provide direct broadcasting services for television, government and commercial content distribution. In addition to commercial services, the payload of Es'hail 2 includes a linear transponder with a bandwidth of 500 kHz and 8 MHz for the amateur radio satellite service, with uplink on 2.4 GHz and downlink on 10.45 GHz.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LES-4</span> Former communications satellite

Lincoln Experimental Satellite 4, also known as LES-4, was a communications satellite, the fourth of nine in the Lincoln Experimental Satellite, and the first of the series designed for operations at geosynchronous altitudes. Launched by the United States Air Force (USAF) on 21 December 1965, it demonstrated many then-advanced technologies including active use of the military's SHF band to service hundreds of users.


  1. "Arabic stars: Stellarium Wiki". Archived from the original on 2014-01-06.
  2. Prösch, Roland; Daskalaki-Prösch, Aikaterini (2011). Technical Handbook for Radio Monitoring VHF/UHF: Edition 2011. Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand GmbH. ISBN   9783842351622.
  3. "XSAT USA plays role in recent K2 mountain rescue". Retrieved 2012-01-10.
  4. "Electronic Weapons". 2003-04-24. Retrieved 2012-01-10.
  5. "Thuraya 1". NSSDC.
  6. "Thuraya-1 Complete System for Mobile Communications". Boeing.
  7. TBS info on Thuraya 1, visited on July 12, 2008
  8. "Thuraya 2". NSSDC.
  9. "Sea Launch Past Launches Thuraya-2". Boeing. Archived from the original on 2008-04-06.
  10. Thuraya 2 and 3 info on Boeing website
  11. "Documents". The Intercept.
  12. "The Space Review: A Nemesis in the Sky: PAN, MENTOR 4". The Space Review.
  13. "Current Mission: Thuraya-3". Sea Launch. Archived from the original on 2007-11-30.
  14. "Sea Launch Continues Thuraya-3 Mission". SeaLaunch. Archived from the original on 2008-01-23.
  15. "Sea Launch Delivers Thuraya-3 Satellite to Orbit". Sea Launch. Archived from the original on 2008-01-18.
  16. "Thuraya 4-NGS satellite system". Thuraya. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  17. Rainbow, Jason (11 October 2022). "Yahsat invests in direct-to-cell enabler eSAT Global". SpaceNews . Retrieved 7 November 2022.
  18. Foust, Jeff (8 September 2021). "SpaceX wins contract to launch Yahsat's Thuraya 4-NGS satellite". SpaceNews . Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  19. Henry, Caleb (28 August 2020). "Yahsat begins Thuraya fleet refresh with Airbus satellite order". SpaceNews . Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  20. "Thuraya X5-Touch is first Android satellite phone/smartphone combo". 2022-01-14. Archived from the original on 14 January 2022. Retrieved 2022-01-14.