Thuraya is an advanced geo-synchronous mobile satellite system providing access to Satellite and GSM services from the same Handset. It offers the facility for high quality voice, voice mail and SMS as standard, together with an in built GPS. Data/fax facilities are available through the optional data kit with speeds obtainable up to 9.6Kb/s (similar to Globalstar and faster than Iridium)
Thuraya has 2 satellites in geosynchronous orbit (Thuraya 2and Thuraya 3). The Thuraya 1 satellite originally launched for testing purposes, has now reached the end of it's life and remains in junk orbit above Korea.
Coverage is not worldwide, and mainly covers Europe, North and Central Africa and across the Middle East through parts of Asia. The Thuraya 3 satellite was launched to cover far East Asia and Australia.
Thuraya Satellite Phones
Thuraya allows you to roam with your handset across nearly one third of the globe. If you are in Thuraya's coverage area you can call to, and receive a call from, anywhere in the world. Even outside the Thuraya coverage area you will still be able to use your Thuraya phone in GSM mode, through a Thuraya GSM roaming partner. The handset can be used as a Satellite only, GSM only, or auto switching between the two, subject to the type of airtime package chosen.
Thuraya Running Costs
Costs vary depending on destination, but range from around $1/min to $1.50/min
Likely to suit a similar user as with Globalstar. The coverage is not worldwide, but the equipment is cheaper and data speeds are higher than with Iridium or a low end Inmarsat system. The ability to automatically switch between using a mobile phone SIM and the satellite network is a nice idea, but most people have a mobile phone already so this is not a compelling advantage