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Thuraya is a leading mobile satellite communications company based in the United Arab Emirates that empowers people with the communication tools to bring the organizations and communities closer. The Thuraya satellite phone is common in the Middle East. Thuraya phones have an internal GPS chip that allows tracking within a one-hundred-meter radius.

Thuraya serves a wide variety of sectors including energy, media, marine, government, NGOs, etc. The superior network enables clear communications and uninterrupted coverage across two thirds of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and parts of Pacific) via satellite and across the globe through a unique GSM roaming capabilities. This advanced GEO offers voice-band communications with compact cellphone-sized handsets by using steerable spot beams to achieve sufficient link margin. Data services are available using a modem connection on the handset.

The Sea Launch Limited Partnership successfully launched a Zenit-3SL launch vehicle at 1:52 a.m. EDT on October 21, 2000. The launch took place from their launch platform in the Pacific Ocean (154 degrees W on the equator), and carried the THURAYA-1 satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit. The THURAYA-1 satellite is owned by the Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company. They offer satellite-based telephony through a mobile phone that combines terrestrial and satellite services, and GPS. Thuraya's footprint includes the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, Central Asia, North and Central Africa, and Europe. Its Primary Gateway, situated in Sharjah, UAE, will act as the operation center for the mobile satellite system.

Thuraya 2 is a UAE (United Arab Emitrate) geostationary communications spacecraft that was launched by a Zenit 3SL rocket fired from Odyssey (the floating launch platform in the equatorial Pacif ocean) at 13:56 UT on 10 June 2003. The 5.2 tonne (with fuel), 11 kW satellite carries many transponders to relay mobile telephone calls from/to countries in and around the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, after parking over 44 deg-E longitude. Its 200 spot beams can be steered to meet the varying call densities, and will enable it to handle 13,750 calls simultaneously.

Thuraya 3 is a United Arab Emirates (UAE) geostationary communications satellite that was launched by a Zenit 3SL rocket from Odyssey, a floating platform on the equatorial Pacific at 154° W longitude, at 11:49 UT on 15 January 2008. It will enable communications from mobile phones in many countries in eastern Asia, Middle East, and Australia. The parking longitude is intended to be a 98.5 degrees East longitude.

Human Rights Watch reported that many of the civilian casualties from the 2003 air war occurred during U.S. attacks targeting senior Iraqi leaders. The United States used an unsound targeting methodology that relied on intercepts of satellite phones and inadequate corroborating intelligence. Thuraya satellite phones provide geo-coordinates that are accurate only to within a one-hundred-meter (328-foot) radius; therefore, the United States could not determine the origin of a call to a degree of accuracy greater than a 31,400-square-meter area. This flawed targeting strategy was compounded by a lack of effective assessment both prior to the attacks of the potential risks to civilians and after the attacks of their success and utility. All of the fifty acknowledged attacks targeting Iraqi leadership failed.

Human Rights Watch reported that the Iraqis may have employed deception techniques to thwart the Americans. It was well known that the United States used intercepted Thuraya satellite phone calls in their search for members of al-Qaeda. CENTCOM was so concerned about the possibility of the Iraqis turning the Thuraya intercept capability against U.S. forces that it ordered its troops to discontinue using Thuraya phones in early April 2003. It announced, “Recent intelligence reporting indicates Thuraya satellite phone services may have been compromised. For this reason, Thuraya phone use has been discontinued on the battlefields of Iraq. The phones now represent a security risk to units and personnel on the battlefield.” It is highly likely the Iraqi leaders assumed that the United States was attempting to track them through the Thuraya phones and therefore possible that they were spoofing American intelligence.

US Intelligence officers relied heavily on Thuraya phones in 2003 to communicate on the ground during the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom after most other communication lines were destroyed or interrupted during the invasion.

In late June 2003, mobile satellite operator Thuraya launched its satellite-based payphone service in Iraq. The UAE-based operator rolled out a network of around 400 “public calling offices” (PCOs) in rural parts of the country. The payphone service will allow people to make international calls for rates ranging between $0.40 and $0.80 per minute. Mobile satellite services provided the main communications links for Iraq since the outbreak of the war. Military personnel and aid agencies depended on the technology in the absence of sufficient terrestrial networks, while Iraqis themselves relied on the services to call friends and relatives outside of Iraq. According to Thuraya, Iraq accounted for 20 percent of its users. Although it is expected that sales of mobile satellite terminals (which cost about $800) would subside as the terrestrial wireless networks were rolled out later in the year, Thuraya hoped that its payphone service will continue to serve remote and rural areas where terrestrial wireless services may not be available.

The Thuraya satellites are operational in the L-band and C-band, where C-band provides feeder-link for the MSS. A number of sharing studies have been carried out in the ITU-R that show high incompatibility between the IMT and satellite services. The separation distances between the FSS and IMT stations needs to be of the order of hundreds of KMs, which makes its practically impossible to be implemented in the similar or close by regions/territories. Also it is well known fact that the C-band Earth stations are already scattered around the world in all countries providing critical services (including safety) to the humanity. It is therefore requested that the C-band be excluded from the possibility of identification for the IMT since ubiquitous operations of both IMT and FSS are not feasible.

It worth noting that cases of interference have been reported in many countries which have authorized WiMax or IMT in parts of the C-band shared with or adjacent to parts of the C-band used for Fixed-Satellite Services. Public reports of interference have been recorded in Bolivia, Fiji and Indonesia, and field trials in Hong Kong have confirmed this interference. These facts support the theoretical study and practical field tests that have come to the conclusion that both services cannot be operated together.

At the beginning of 2012, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) confirmed that FSS earth stations operating in the C-band and used for their international satellite distribution network of radio and TV content had been affected by harmful interference in the following countries: D.R. of the Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Rwanda, Pakistan, Cambodia, Trinidad, South Sudan and Jamaica.

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Page last modified: 12-11-2015 18:37:35 ZULU