In 2021, as the world emerged from the worst of the COVID pandemic, many nations and businesses focused on expanding their sustainable footprint and commitment to people and the planet. A striking example is the United Arab Emirates. The UAE, which is one of the fastest growing communications hubs, is on a mission to bridge the digital divide in underserved regions, as reliable connectivity is key to removing socio-economic divisions globally.
The UAE’s efforts to enable voice and internet connections worldwide are spearheaded by its flagship satellite services operator, Yahsat. Yahsat and its mobile satellite services subsidiary, Thuraya, cover more than 150 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and Australia, reaching over 80 percent of the global population.
For a more enduring impact beyond borders, Yahsat is upscaling Thuraya’s space and ground systems, while building a portfolio of advanced mobility solutions to enable next-generation applications including IoT and e-government. At the heart of this transformational drive is the Thuraya 4-NGS satellite that is slated for launch in late 2023. Last year was pivotal for Thuraya, as Yahsat announced a slew of projects and partnerships that are bound to accelerate the subsidiary’s long-term growth and expansion.
A new mobile satellite communications ecosystem emerges
Despite the global lockdown last year, Yahsat completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of Thuraya 4-NGS and is readying to launch the satellite on time. Complemented by a 5G-ready core network, Thuraya 4-NGS will ensure increased coverage and capacity over EMEA, West and Central Asia, in addition to delivering next generation communication solutions for defence, government, enterprise and commercial customers. Meanwhile, the Spanish group, GMV, is on board to supply the spacecraft’s control and flight dynamics systems, which will augment the performance of Thuraya 4-NGS, and prolong its lifetime.
Yahsat also inked an agreement with the Danish satellite enterprise, Cobham SATCOM, to deliver a comprehensive next generation mobile broadband system, with ground infrastructure and products for land, marine and aero platforms. Cobham’s expertise and capabilities are set to enhance Thuraya’s advanced broadband data services, enabling its ground network with 4G and 5G capabilities and features.
Partnerships with global tech leaders
In September 2021, Yahsat announced in Washington that Thuraya 4-NGS will be launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Falcon 9 was selected due to its high reliability and advanced capabilities, underscoring Yahsat’s focus on maximising the quality and performance of its businesses, as well as its continued commitment to partnering with global technology leaders, innovators and disruptors. Yahsat has also joined hands with Ericsson to build Thuraya’s private network, data and internet connectivity services for the oil and gas, mining and ports sectors. A Thuraya-Ericsson integrated solution will provide secure, reliable and low-latency local connectivity to enable multiple Industry 4.0 use cases on Yahsat’s satellite network, while ensuring that sensitive data remains on-site and completely secure.
2021 also witnessed the launch of the highly affordable, web-based Thuraya SatTrack maritime tracking and monitoring service. Designed for vessels and fleets supported by the Thuraya MarineStar solution (enabling voice, tracking and monitoring), SatTrack facilitates sustainable fishing practices, improved crew welfare and safety, better fleet visibility and management, besides on-board real-time condition monitoring. Since the roll-out, the Thuraya MarineStar-SatTrack combo has been an unprecedented success in the Asian markets, especially Vietnam and China.
Forging relationships for a holistic impact
Thuraya has secured long-term commercial agreements for a total value in excess of USD$86 million for the next three years. They add significantly to Yahsat’s anticipated future cash flows and prior contracted backlog of over USD$1.9 billion, further entrenching the mobile satellite services subsidiary as a global leader across government, consumer, enterprise and maritime market segments.
Besides building the new mobile broadband system, Cobham SATCOM will distribute Yahsat’s next generation mobility solutions for a minimum term of five years, starting from the commencement of commercial operations on Thuraya 4-NGS. This decision by Yahsat and Cobham is expected to generate more than US$80 million of potential service revenue.
Simultaneously, Thuraya is strengthening relations with its distribution partners for heightened visibility in core markets. It recently renewed its commercial ties with the Russian multiservice communications provider, GTNT, to expand operations within the country. GTNT will introduce the next generation mobility solutions in Russia to support key verticals, including maritime, oil and gas and Internet of Things (IoT). Still, there’s more to come from Yahsat this year.
Watch the case study below to understand how Thuraya SatTrack safeguards fishers’ interests, while ensuring total compliance with global regulations for a more ecologically viable future.