The MSS market is currently one of the most dynamic markets in satellite and Thuraya Telecommunications Company, the Middle East-based MSS operator, is looking to expand its presence in the sector, particularly in markets like Asia. The operator is now under the stewardship of Samer Halawi, who was appointed CEO of Thuraya in February 2011. Here, he talks about the challenges ahead after his first year as Thuraya’s chief executive, his concerns for the MSS industry and how the operator is working to make the most of its potential.
VIA SATELLITE: What is your capital expenditure plans for new satellites?
Halawi: If you look at what has been happening in the industry, it is interesting how the lines have blurred between the FSS and MSS sectors. There is movement in all directions. I think Thuraya is in a fortunate position, as we have not yet unveiled plans for what we want to do for the next generation. Today, we have a satellite covering Europe, Africa and the Middle East that will last well into 2018 and another over Asia and Australia that will last until 2023. We have time before we have to make such strategic decisions. Having said that, the way we are looking to do this exercise is that we want to forecast properly what the market demand is, and where the market is. It is not necessarily in L-band, Ka-band or Ku-band. It might be a mixture of all of those. It might be something different. I feel we are a bit different and in a unique position compared to some of our competitors as we are starting with a blank sheet of paper and looking at what makes sense from a market point of view. We are going to be much more flexible in our decisions. This is something we will likely engage in the second half of this year, so decisions on new satellites could be made later this year.
VIA SATELLITE: Does Thuraya have a Ka-band strategy?
Halawi: Right now, I believe that customers are looking for managed solutions, irrespective of a frequency band. They don’t really care about the type of bandwidth. They just want something that works. I don’t expect us to be limited to a certain frequency band in our future strategy. We are looking more into service bundling and managed services. We could look into some alliances and work with other companies to provide the solutions that the customers want. We are quite flexible in our thinking and haven’t yet committed one way or another. Ka-band has some benefits, but also some limitations as well. It has quality and reliability issues and is still open to question about how it will do in the mobility arena. It is also going to be on the expensive side. Ka-band does cater to a certain segment of the market, but obviously we have to look at a number of segments and not only one.