Thuraya - the wait is almost over

After years of planning, months of preperation and millions of dollars of investment, the Thuraya Satellite Company is finally on the verge of launching full commercial services.

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By  Alex Marklew Published  May 11, 2001

Thuraya will be launching its full commercial service in about four weeks time, following a successful soft launch last week.

40,000 handsets have already been sold across the service area, with another 400,000 expected to be sold during the first year of service.

Trials began this week in the UK, Italy and Denmark, having commenced in the UAE the week before. Testing will start in Sudan next week, then roll out in other markets as time goes by.

“This will go on till mid-June when full commercial services will begin in markets worldwide,” said chairman Mohammad Omran.

Handsets start at around US $730, including SIM card and initial line rental. A total of 235,000 have been ordered, and the Abu Dhabi-based company expects to take delivery of the first 40,000 next month. The full supply should arrive by the end of the year.

“Initially we expect a shortage of handsets,” said Omran, “And in view of the demand, as well as the performance, we should see demand for about 400,000 handsets in a years time, higher than our initial expectations.

“We may have to order more handsets and the manufacturers have been informed of this.”

Service provider agreements have been signed in 40 countries across the Thuraya coverage area, which spans much of the Europe and Africa, as well as the whole of the Middle East (see map above).

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