Thuraya updates ThurayaECO prepaid plan

Thuraya, a UAE-based mobile satellite operator, updates one of its prepaid offerings — ThurayaECO plan. The plan, which provides discounted calling from 83 countries, will now have one-year of initial validity (instead of 30 days) and $5 of initial credit (instead of $2). The longer validity term is definitely good news for customers, who now will not need to worry about their SIM expiring within days after the initial use (or sometimes purchase).

It should be mentioned that in return Thuraya introduces a $15 annual renewal fee, which wasn’t present before. And the best news — all existing ThurayaECO subscribers will have their accounts renewed for one year (from July 1, 2010) at no charge!

Calling rates have remained unchanged: $0.75/min. to cell/landline phones, $0.50/min. to Thuraya phones and voicemail.

starting July 1, 2010
Preloaded airtime $5.00 $2.00
Initial SIM validity 12 months 30 days
Annual renewal fee $15.00
Grace period (after SIM expiry) 90 days 60 days
Unused balance is… …retained during the Grace period,
restored if
…lost after SIM expiry

Iridium vs Thuraya explained (video)

This short video created by Satcomms, in a funny fashion, compares two latest satellite phones from two key competing mobile satellite operators: Thuraya and Iridium. The Iridium 9555 handset, of course, scores big in critical network features: the global coverage and the speediness of network registration and establishing calls. The Thuraya XT phone is richer in phone features, such as a bright color screen and GPS functionality.

The authors failed to mention that Thuraya XT phone has a better protection from harsh environment, and more importantly — Thuraya phones support up to 25 times faster data transfer via satellite compared to Iridium.

By the way, since the XT phone is “satellite only”, it will not work “in the States” with a cellular network as implied in the video. One will need the Thuraya SG-2520 SAT/GSM hybrid phone to accomplish this task.

Thuraya XT satellite phone introduced

Thuraya XT Satellite Phone

Thuraya will soon update its line of satellite phones. The current SG-2520 and SO-2510 handsets will be joined by the new rugged Thuraya XT handset, which is promised to be “the only satellite phone in the world to meet the industry’s highest criteria for splash and dust resistance and shock proofing”.

Here is some technical stuff:
System: Thuraya SAT only (no GSM like in SG-2520)
Dimensions: 128 x 53 x 26.5mm
Weight: 193 g
Display: 2” / 262K colors
GmPRS (always-on data): 60/15 kbps (Down/Up)
Fax and Data: 9.6 kbps
Battery Life: Talk time up to 6 hours and standby time up to 80 hours
PC compatibility: Windows Vista, XP/2000, NT
External Interfaces: Data Cable (UDC) with USB connector.
Retail price:: ~$1,000

How successful the new phone is going to be is unclear, since it doesn’t really offer any new features except for its rugged case. But new handsets in the mobile satellite industry are rarity, so we are always pleased to see one on the market.

Thuraya overhauls its prepaid offerings

On May 8, 2009, Thuraya quite unexpectedly discontinued its CLASSIC flat-rate prepaid plan for satellite phones. No new activations are possible, even for the SIM-cards purchased before that date.

All existing Thuraya CLASSIC, SUPER and EASY prepaid accounts have been converted to the new Thuraya PREPAY plan with one-year validity commencing on May 10, 2009. The PREPAY plan features $1.49/min. flat rate to landlines and cellphones around the world, $0.99/min. in-network calling and $0.49 per text message. Incoming calls and messages are always free (for the Thuraya subscriber). The annual fee is $39.00, waived for heavy users (>$1500 of satellite calls per year).

As a result, Thuraya currently offers three prepaid plans: PREPAY, ThurayaECO (cheap calls in 83 countries) and MARITIME.