Satellite Phone "Iridium", "Thuraya": technical specifications and reviews

The implementation of the concept of creating personal communication networks provides for the provision of a wide range of services under the motto "anywhere, anytime" through a single personal number of the subscriber. The work is carried out on the basis of global integration of existing and established networks of fixed, terrestrial mobile and satellite communications, the creation of special terminals that ensure the interconnection of communication standards and protocols. As part of this integration, the satellite phone occupies a special position, because it provides a global coverage area.

Connection with space

In the understanding of most people, satellite communications are something exotic from a series of James Bond films. In fact, there are millions of people on the planet who need a mobile satellite phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, anywhere in the world. As a rule, the subscribers of dozens of companies that provide space communications are businessmen, senior employees of large companies, state structures, geologists, researchers, travelers, and rarely ordinary people living in remote areas.

Systems of personal satellite communication (SPSS)

Since 1985, the International Telecommunication Union has been developing the concept of globalization and simultaneously personalizing communication on a global scale. Ten years later, in Buenos Aires, a landmark global conference was held, at which the scale and parameters of the global information infrastructure were approved. It consists of a single interconnected system called "personal telephone - satellite communications - ground communications".

In solving the problems of globalization and personalization of communication, the SPS systems represent the only economically justified solution for reaching out to hard-to-reach, remote and sparsely populated regions of the planet.

Main tasks of the project

  • Globalization of communication - the provision of communication services regardless of the location of the user.
  • Personalization of communication - bringing services to end users who want to receive services.
  • Personal terminal (satellite phone, data transmission devices) - the users have the means of communication with a personal number.
  • General use services for personal users.
  • Private service - for certain groups of users.

Classification of communication systems

There are high-speed and low-speed communication systems.

  • Low-speed : Iridium, Globalstar, ICO, Odyssey, "Signal", ECCO, "Rostele-sat", Ellipse, Archimedes, "Polar Star" and others. The range of services provided: telephony, fax, data transmission. At the moment, high-speed transmission of information is also realized. For example, the modern satellite phone "Iridium" provides both a stable secure voice and network connection.
  • High-speed : Celestri, Spaceway, Skybridge, Teledesic, Secoms and others. They specialize in global interaction services such as high-speed Internet access, remote users access to databases, high-quality video telephony and conference communication, multimedia services based on various modifications of communication terminals, including basic ones, aimed at a wide range of personal users.

Project "Iridium"

Back in 1987, long before the ITU World Conference, Motorola conceived an ambitious global communications project, available around the clock, anywhere in the world. The project was called Iridium. Initially, it was planned to put 77 spacecraft (SC) into low orbits, but after recalculation the number of satellites was reduced to 66.

To carry out the project work in 1993, an international consortium Iridium Inc (Washington) was established. The structure on the rights of investors included companies: Motorola, Lockheed Martin, Nippon, Raytheon, Sprint Corp. And a dozen other representatives. On the Russian side, the investor ($ 82 million, 5% of the shares) was the leading rocket and space company of Russia, the GKNPTS im. Khrunichev. She also contracted with Motorola to launch Iridium spacecraft with PH Proton. The first call through the satellite phone was made in the summer of 1997.

Collapse and rebirth

The main grouping of satellites was launched in 1997-98, and the beginning of commercial operation is considered September 23, 1998. However, greed (unreasonably high tariffs) of managers a year later led to bankruptcy of the project. Before the company "Motorola" the question arose of the withdrawal from orbits of satellites, which required $ 40 million.

Fortunately, there were investors who believed in the effectiveness of the project. Established in 2000, Iridium Satellite LLC repurchased assets for 25 million, and, having secured orders from the US Department of Defense, resumed commercial operation of global satellite systems. In 2009, another reorganization was required - the end user was Iridium Communications Inc.

Current state

Now "Iridium" is quite a successful project with a subscriber base exceeding half a million customers. Among them - the most influential figures of the planet, the leaders of the largest firms, government services of different countries, employees of transport, construction, mining companies, emergency services and other categories. In principle, the satellite phone "Iridium" with a set of services can be purchased by everyone.


Iridium Communications itself produces most of the equipment for high-speed data transmission and voice communication. For customers are available as "inexpensive", and flagship satellite phones, made in a protected case. The most popular are the models Iridium 9505A, 9555 and Extreme (9575). Internet access is provided by modems 9522A, 9522B and 9602, and automatic data exchange of class M2M - devices Iridium 9601 and 9602.

To save energy devices are equipped with monochrome displays. Telephones have a high degree of protection against impacts, moisture, dust, temperature fluctuations. The latest model is the satellite phone Iridium Extreme (9575). This is a fairly portable device in comparison with its predecessors and analogues of competitors. The phone works anywhere on Earth and provides the most reliable voice, data and GPS location. Iridium 9575 combines the functions of the satellite phone Iridium 9555 and the satellite GPS tracker Shout Nano. The model has the following features:

  • Protection against dirt, vibration, shock, water (IP65, MIL-STD 810F).
  • Built-in GPS-navigator.
  • Programmable SOS button.
  • Built-in radio beacon, helping to search at sea.

Types of services

The Iridium system provides subscribers with the following services:

  • Speech communication. In the speech coder, the algorithm with linear prediction of VSELP (vector-sum excited linear prediction) is used. The speed of voice transmission is 2.4 kbps. The duration of negotiations is 30 seconds. (Without interrupting communication) will be provided with a probability of 98%.
  • Data transfer. Transparent transmission with variable message length is carried out. It is also possible to send short messages that determine the location and status of the subscriber.
  • Facsimile messages . The terminal is able to receive and store messages in memory, their subscriber can view by scrolling the message on the display screen.
  • A personal challenge.
  • Determine the location.

The Thuraya Project

Unlike the global network "Iridium", "Turaya" is a regional project, operating mainly in Europe. If Motorola and its partners have launched 66 satellites, the European project is satisfied with three, suspended in geostationary orbits. However, a satellite phone connected to the Thuraya system (from the Arabian constellation of the Pleiades) will also be able to receive / send calls in Australia, Africa, and Central Asia. To implement the Internet connection, a separate brand was created - ThurayaDSL.


A company registered in the UAE conducts a profitable business. Has a subscriber base approaching 300,000 customers, incomes only in 2006 exceeded $ 80 million. For comparison: 2005 the company finished with a positive balance of $ 26 million.


If you compare the equipment "Iridium" and "Thuraya", for example, satellite phones, photos clearly show their external and functional differences. Many Thuraya devices are equipped with compact (retractable) antennas, while the signal level is more than stable on the satellite-covered territory (this is noted in user reviews).

Externally, the satellite phone "Thuraya" resembles the "handsets" of the mid-2000s: small in comparison with competitors body dimensions, color screen, more or less modern design. In this case, the devices have the necessary degree of protection. But, most importantly, the devices are equipped with a GSM-module, that is, in the coverage area of cellular communication, with service providers with whom the Arab company has entered into an agreement, the phone works like a regular cellular phone. If there is no GSM connection, it automatically connects to satellites.

The user functionality of the devices is the same as with the usual mobile phones: user-friendly menus, Java games and applications, data transfer, USB-interface. From the "adult" functions - an advanced GPS-system.

Thuraya XT Satellite Phone

It is the flagship of the company "Turaya", which became the first among analogues with increased protection against dust, harmful substances and moisture, class IP54 / IK03. The shock-resistant case of polycarbonate materials, as noted in the reviews, withstands severe drops and vibration. Additional resistance to aggressive environments is provided by rubber gaskets and aluminum sputtering.


  • The color display of 262000K measures 2 inches and has a resolution of 176x220 pixels.
  • Transmission of faxes and data is possible both via the dial-up channel (low speed, on the order of 9.6 kbps), and by GmPRS (return - 15 kbps, reception - up to 60 kbps).
  • Determine the GPS-coordinates with the last ten readings.
  • USB, standard connector for headphones (3.5 mm), light sensor.
  • SAT frequencies: "sky / earth" - 1525/1559 MHz, "earth / sky" - 1626.5 / 1660.5 MHz.
  • Dimensions (width / height / thickness): 53/128 / 26.5 mm. Weight - 193 g.

The services

  • Voice communication and SMS via satellite phones.
  • Facsimile and Internet via phones.
  • ThurayaIP allows you to transfer data at a speed of 444 kbit / s to a special terminal.
  • Determination of GPS coordinates.
  • Emergency call assistance.
  • Voice mail, WAP, missed calls, call waiting, call back, news and other services.


The companies "Iridium" and "Thuraya" in the provision of seemingly identical satellite communications services have a completely different concept and scope of activities. If for the North American project an impressive grouping of satellites is involved, then the Arab partners have three operating in geostationary orbits. Undoubted advantage of Iridium is uninterrupted communication throughout the Earth, and Thuraya trump card is more modern and convenient phones capable of operating in GSM networks.

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