Thuraya outlines plans to become a 'truly global' provider

Mobile satellite communications provider Thuraya Telecommunications confirmed reports it is in talks with U.S. operators regarding expansion into the market.

Thuraya Telecommunications, Satellite, GSM

Samer Halawi, CEO Thuraya Telecommunications

A spokeswoman told FierceWireless:Europe the company, which currently operates in Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific, is discussing buying capacity on existing satellites that cover the U.S., and has entered into talks with potential investors to fund the move.

The spokeswoman told FW:E the company is "looking to possibly partner with strategic investor (commercial, financial or a combination of both) to enable and accelerate our growth," as part of "ambitions to expand our satellite coverage from two thirds of the world to truly global."

Thuraya "delivered 15 per cent growth in 2013 in an industry where other players are reporting flat or declining revenues," and the U.S. expansion "would allow us to tap into platform customers requiring a global footprint, in particular aero and maritime," the spokeswoman said.

Chief executive, Samer Halawi, revealed the expansion plan in an interview with Bloomberg. Thuraya hopes the move will open the door to new customers, and help achieve its revenue target of $200 million (€143 million) by 2018, the news agency stated.

Halawi told Bloomberg Thuraya is on track to becoming profitable in the next two years. He added that the company aims to agree U.S. partnerships soon, and while he would not say what companies it is talking to, he noted that options on the table include buying spectrum and satellites, as well as leasing capacity.

The Americas remain a black spot in terms of Thuraya's satellite coverage--it currently has birds covering much of Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Australia--but the company does already offer GSM roaming services in North and South America. The latter service is also available in Europe, Africa, Russia, most countries in the Middle East, and major Asia Pacific markets including China.

Thuraya recently agreed a deal to provide mobile satellite communications to UK-based Talia, covering voice and data communications for Talia's customers in the oil and gas industries. The company will use Thuraya's satellites and services to connect remote locations to its data centre in Germany.

Bilal El Hamoui, vice president of distribution at Thuraya, said the contract covers provision of satellite broadband and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) backup, and boosts his company's position in the oil and gas sectors.

"Talia's experience with providing end-to-end satellite solutions for oil and gas customers is complementary to ours," El Hamoui said, adding that the deal "demonstrates Thuraya's commitment to serving our customers through a network of sector-specific service partners."

Despite the continued focus on industrial services, Halawi told Bloomberg Thuraya is increasingly eyeing the consumer sector to power future growth. The company already supplies sleeves that enable iPhones and some Samsung Galaxy smartphones to make satellite calls, which are sold through mobile operators and major retailers.

The company faces competition in the consumer sector from companies including Iridium, which recently revealed plans to launch a hotspot device that extends satellite coverage to smartphones, and Globalstar, which is targeting Wi-Fi enabled devices.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see Thuraya's coverage map
- see the Talia announcement

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