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Thuraya X5-Touch Android satellite phone

An Android-powered satellite phone, the Thuraya X5-Touch provides exceptional out-of-the-box features with remarkable connectivity. Thuraya's X5-Touch bridges the gap between traditional, rugged satellite phones and modern smartphone technology, offering both advanced smart functions and reliable, consistent connectivity wherever you are. In fact, it is the world's first Android-based satellite touch phone. 

The Advantages of the Thuraya X5-Touch

In the world of satcom technology, Thuraya was the first company to tap into the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach also known as Bring Your Own Technology. Powered by Android Nougat, the X5-Touch makes it possible to bring your own apps anywhere. Commonly used apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search, and the Google Play Store come preinstalled for convenience, and 3rd party applications can easily be installed as needed. In addition to these smart features, however, the X5-Touch has a rugged, travel-ready build.

A 5.2" Gorilla glass touchscreen, water protection, dust protection, and shock, vibration, and temperature resistance all work to make the X5-Touch one of the most durable smartphones available. In fact, the Thuraya X5-Touch Android satellite phone is the most durable phone in its class, with IP67 standard and MIL 810 G/F compliance.

A powerful battery, dedicated SOS button, and advanced navigation solutions further enhance the X5-Touch's abilities as a travel-friendly phone. The X5-Touch can be used for everything from oil field contract work to recreational travel, providing always on connectivity through Thuraya's wide satellite coverage. The X5-Touch can connect through satellite, WiFi, Bluetooth, or NFC.

Use Cases for the Thuraya X5-Touch Android Satellite Phone

1. Business sector. Give employees access to consistent, high quality international calling without asking them to give up their apps.

2. Oil and energy sector. Employees and contractors will be able to communicate via satellite in rural locations or at sea on oil rigs.

3. Defense and security sector. Defense and security users can use the X5-Touch to remain in contact in any type of deployment.

4. Recreational sector. Those who are frequent travelers can use the X5-Touch as a primary phone, to connect with family and friends wherever they are.

5. Media and news sector. Media professionals often need to report in from international locations; the X5-Touch makes this posisble.

6. Disaster and emergency sector. Relief employees can use the X5-Touch to connect and coordinate in many countries throughout the world.

Accessories for the Thuraya X5-Touch

Thuraya provides a number of useful technologies for the X5-Touch, which can be used to extend the features, reliability, and usability of the product.

1. Solar chargers. Perfect for travel, solar chargers provide additional battery power even in areas without electricity.

2. Travel chargers. With exchangeable plugs, the X5-Touch travel charger can be used virtually anywhere in the world.

3. Car chargers. Charge while on the go with the Thuraya X5-Touch car charger, designed to work in a car lighter socket.

4. Spare battery. Rather than wasting time charging, you can pop in a spare battery -- a rare feature for smartphones.

5. Indoor repeaters. For better connectivity, indoor repeaters can be used to boost a weak signal.

6. External satellite antenna. Antenna can be used to improve satellite reception while moving, such as in a car.

Ultimately, the X5-Touch offers the best of both worlds when it comes to smartphones and traditional satellite phones. The Thuraya X5-Touch provides all of the smartphone features you could need in a rugged, travel-ready device.

On the smartphone side, you get a powerful camera, apps and touchscreen. In addition to this, you get reliable, secure satellite communications. If you're interested in the Thuraya X5-Touch, look for retailers in your location today.

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Continuing our journey

Reliability, Trust and Innovation - these core values have been at the forefront of the Thuraya brand for the last twenty years. The last two decades have seen some extraordinary developments for Thuraya, from exceptional growth to constantly improving customer satisfaction. And with our merger with Yahsat last year, these core values are only growing stronger.

As a leading global Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) operator, Thuraya has carved a reputation for itself that spans the globe. The Thuraya brand embodies dynamism and a willingness to disrupt the industry, adapting its offerings to fulfill customer needs, and pioneering meaningful innovation in the telecommunications industry. Through future-forward thinking, Thuraya has been able to consistently improve upon its product offerings and expand its reach.

Now Thuraya is moving into a new stage of its brand journey, it welcomes both an expansion of its branding and capabilities. Following Thuraya’s merger with Yahsat in April of last year, Thuraya has moved forward as a mobile satellite communications subsidiary of Yahsat. As Thuraya grows with Yahsat, both companies are creating a shared vision of the future. And, as always, this future is 'customer first.'

Thuraya has always been committed to innovation, anticipating the needs of the market and providing truly unique and useful technologies. Through the union with Yahsat, Thuraya hopes to be able to bring even more advanced technology to the market. As a leader in Mobile Satellite Services, Thuraya recognizes that the industry is going through radical changes and that new resources will need to be leveraged to successfully serve the constantly expanding market.

Yahsat is a global satellite provider, and the addition of Thuraya's satellites - connecting to 160 countries - will bring its own total satellite assets up to five. Through this merger, both Yahsat and Thuraya will be able to improve coverage, both in terms of geographical spread and the quality of transmissions. With a newly reshaped fleet, Thuraya is poised to improve upon and grow its operations, hand-in-hand with its acquiring partner.

Thuraya has spent twenty years building customer loyalty and faith, and the strength of this branding remains present following the merger with Yahsat. With combined missions, Thuraya and Yahsat will be working together to provide high-quality connectivity throughout the world. With innovative, disruptive technologies, Thuraya and Yahsat are now able to forget into never-before-seen technologies, with the backing of their collective resources.

Stay tuned for more information about Thuraya's brand journey, new changes coming up for the company, and exciting introductions to the Thuraya and Yahsat product line. The coming year will undoubtedly bring interesting things to Thuraya - and to the Mobile Satellite Services market.

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M2M Dubai: How technology is changing life in the emirate

Dubai is changing swiftly. With advanced new technologies, a constantly expanding oil industry, and a growing and complex economy, communication has become more important than ever. IoT/M2M offers a major avenue for innovation and economic growth, and has the potential to address many of region’s challenges. Through these technologies, businesses are able to stay connected, regardless of where they are.

In line with the Smart Dubai Plan 2021, the emirate would be ready for mass IoT adoption by 2020.

Getting connected with M2M Dubai 

Though Dubai still has an extremely robust oil and gas industry, diversification of the economy is incredibly important for long-term stability. Within the UAE, many are now looking to Dubai for ways to grow and expand without a reliance on the oil industry. Consequently, Dubai has been growing in areas of commerce, tourism, and more. These types of expansion absolutely demand the best available technologies, and it's important for the groundwork for these technologies to be laid well in advance of expansion.

From oil fields to new construction projects, there are many areas of Dubai that are remote and still in development. Relying on traditional cellular signals isn't feasible in these locations, as they don't have coverage available. M2M can provide coverage to even the most remote of locations, ensuring the productivity and safety of these new developments. M2M includes communications technologies such as satellite phones, which rely on a broad network of satellites to deliver cellular data and internet data from anywhere in the world.

M2M for Dubai oil & gas

With lower oil prices being the new norm, enterprises in Dubai are adopting smarter, end-to-end M2M solutions for efficient operations, without jeopardizing their profit margins. This trend is bound to grow as the industry becomes even more competitive.  Oil corporations are already altering their drilling strategies after comparing real-time down-hole drilling data with data from production of nearby wells. The advanced analytics are effected by intelligent M2M tools. According to Bain & Company, this level of visibility can help companies improve production by 6% to 8%.

Thuraya M2M automates monitoring and data readings of compressors, tank liquids, LACT (Lease Automatic Custody Transfer) meters, PIGs (Pipeline Inspection Gauges) as well as rectifiers deployed for cathodic protection.

M2M and cold chain telematics in Dubai

It is estimated that nearly 3.27 million tons of food, worth more than US $3.54 billion produced and imported in the UAE is wasted every year. The vast majority of food wastage happens before it even reaches the consumer.  In the past, there was very little consistent cold chain integrity. The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the efficiency of long distance food, pharmaceutical, and other perishable supply chains in the region.

According to recent studies, between 20 - 30% of the trucks and delivery wagons supplying food stuff in the UAE need to be equipped with the telematics technology as real-time information is key to managing F&B fleets efficiently. Rather than merely consisting of freezers and freight trains, the newer, temperature-controlled, ‘cold’ supply chain is now increasingly incorporating digital software solutions, secure cloud technology, and open architecture. 

In areas outside regular telecom networks, Thuraya’s IoT/M2M technologies are the prime enablers of efficient cold chain supply and management.  

Civil defense and M2M technology

When it comes to civil defense, the government and the public need to be connected. Yet as people continue to spread out to remote areas this can be difficult. If the telecommunications lines are down, it can potentially endanger important emergency communications. The political landscape is changing as quickly as the economic one, and many countries are now facing new challenges related to securing their cities and their borders. From external attacks to environmental disasters, it's important for civil defense that every country be able to swiftly mobilize and alert its citizens.

Thuraya M2M helps government agencies connect with citizens regardless of the types of emergencies that are occurring. 98% of all buildings in Dubai, residential and commercial - old and new – are now linked to the central operation rooms of civil defence authorities as part of the Ministry of Interior’s ‘Hassantuk’ project. Using state of the art M2M technology, remote-communication technologies such as GPS and GPRS, every building and asset within Dubai, both government and privately-owned are monitored in real time for fire, lift and emergency alarms.  

In urban settlements, satellite M2M provides secondary backup to GSM for 24X7 surveillance. However, where there is little terrestrial telecom coverage - such as desert and mountain outposts - Thuraya’s M2M solutions take the center stage.

M2M for better corporate profits

Companies coming to Dubai want to have their profits secured. Better technology and better communication are more attractive to investors long-term, bringing money into the economy and aiding further expansion. M2M Dubai doesn't just improve upon the telecommunications resources open for a company; it can also directly improve their bottom line. M2M devices can be used for sensor equipment in the oil and gas industry, security solutions, and safety processes, reducing potential risks. ​

Thuraya Satellite IoT/M2M

Satellite phones and telecommunications aren't the only M2M technologies; data can also be transmitted, paving the way for network connectivity in areas that were previously unable to be developed. Developing out these more remote regions will not only lead to improved commerce, but it will also eventually lead to additional livable areas where the population centers can expand and new amenities, such as shopping and entertainment venues, can be built.

If Dubai is to continue to thrive, it must continue to grow. The shifting global economy requires that companies do everything that they can to acquire better technology and further their accessibility. M2M technologies are able to provide better solutions overall, from innovation to security.

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M2M service providers in Dubai  

The IoT has sparked off a ‘4th Industrial Revolution’ in the GCC, as Arab economies embrace next-generation technologies to diversify and thrive. It has the potential to unlock up to 11% in incremental GDP driving economic growth in the region, according to market analyst AT Kearney1.

The UAE’s IoT market alone is set to more than triple to US$35bn2 by 2019.

As Dubai transforms into the UAE’s smart technology hub, it becomes more important than ever to ensure connectivity in the emirate. Thuraya is a leading provider of tracking, monitoring and machine-to-machine services throughout Dubai, offering superior IoT technology for growing companies across the UAE and the GCC.  The IoT/M2M services provided through Thuraya can be used for a number of applications, ranging from safety to maintenance improvements.

M2M for different applications across Dubai

In the developing and remote areas of the GCC, connectivity can be difficult. M2M provides a link to Internet-capable devices, which can then be used for a variety of applications.

Thuraya's M2M solutions are used to monitor distributed remote assets e.g. power stations, reporting data regarding renewable energy sources and extending data connectivity to remote areas. Since it is not possible to rebuild power grids from scratch, M2M can help improve upon what already exists by providing efficient data collection, management and reporting mechanisms that are operable on both GSM and satellite communication networks. Automated systems will reduce spending on not only energy but also maintenance, repair, and operations by about 16%.

Thuraya M2M further provides remote terminal management, which includes functions such as viewing traffic statistics, debugging terminals, checking the online status of terminals, and billing and provisioning. Further, all of this can be completed in a cost-effective way that ultimately saves an organization money.

T2M tracking and monitoring service

Tracking and monitoring assets, especially mobile assets located across changing points, has traditionally been a complex process. However, as operations delve further into remote territories, it is increasingly vital to rely on solutions that are simpler, flexible, more affordable and less labor-intensive. ​ The T2M-DUAL terminal (Thuraya Tracking and Monitoring) addresses these challenges with robust IoT communications capabilities. The terminal allows smarter, more streamlined and automated data capture over both satellite and GSM networks.

Through T2M, organizations can track their vehicle fleets to ensure that they aren't in danger, study the amount of fuel and other resources being consumed, and develop security alerts should vehicles go out of their pre-set boundaries.T2M tracking and monitoring solutions don't just provide for automated loss prevention, but they also serve as a security system for the fleet manager. Furthermore, T2M tracking and monitoring solutions may be able to be used for the purposes of logistics, including cold chain, collecting large volumes of information about transit and refining this information to find the best potential route.

T2M-DUAL Terminal

M2M service providers in Dubai

Finding the right M2M service provider is about finding providers that are able to offer reliable, cost-effective solutions throughout the country. M2M service providers need to be able to provide the best in customer service, as well as the best in technology. Further, it's best to work with M2M service providers in Dubai who have direct experience for your industry. Thuraya has a wide array of M2M services, including the ability to monitor and control your assets in real time, secure the safety of your teams, and protect against cybersecurity threats.

Thuraya's M2M network is able to provide clear and uninterrupted coverage to approximately two-thirds of the world, through the use of a number of advanced technologies that are able to work seamlessly together. This is not only beneficial to those in Dubai, but also those who are constructing projects across the globe.

Thuraya was first established in 1997 and has been helping to revolutionize the satellite communication technology in Dubai for the past two decades. From the energy industry to broadcast media, Thuraya has always been dedicated to improving innovation within the telecommunications industry. Through this dedication, Thuraya has been able to amass a large inventory of advanced, reliable broadband devices, satellite headsets, and other important technology.

For the future of Dubai's development, it's absolutely vital that businesses are able to stay connected as well as leverage next-generation technologies. M2M solutions through Thuraya can help.

Contact Thuraya today to learn more about the benefits of M2M.

For more information about Thuraya IoT/M2M, please click here.

[1] AT Kearney: ‘IoT in the GCC: Building a Brighter, More Sustainable Future.’

[2] MicroMarket Monitor

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If you don’t know what to do, say something

​During the dotcom boom of the early 2000s, it was often said that, faced with a huge tide of technological change, it was arguably better to do something than do nothing and hope for the best.

The creative destruction that followed, with one over-valued venture after another foundering, left many companies wishing they had stayed put rather than gambling on the then still-emerging platform of the internet.

Nearly 20 years later, the same argument is being made, but from much firmer foundations. The new technology revolution – sometimes called business 4.0 – is forcing the shipping industry to consider new ways of working at a pace that is faster, more fundamental more urgent than ever.

With maritime just emerging from a decade of downturn and asset values and earnings on the rise, owners and managers are looking for practical opportunities to embrace the digital economy that can sharpen competitive edge and improve profitability.

Not every new technology will be game-changer for shipping, not every trend is just hype, but being able to choose the tools needed for smarter operations is the challenge that a majority of owners need to address.

The major trends

Despite the emergence of a handful of ‘technology mega-trends’, many owners and managers are only recently adopting the applications that can drive improved productivity and generate the more transparent and accountable operations – and which will put them on the journey to smarter shipping.

Central to these are increased shoreside monitoring and control, whether through machine-to-machine connections of major equipment and systems or with enhanced connectivity to bridge and engine room teams.

Owners are embracing concepts once considered exotic, including CCTV, much higher bandwidth communications and fleet control centres from which they can provide 24-7 support to ships and crews.

Such systems have been available for some years but are beginning to provide the sort of deeper user experience that builds towards smarter operations. Until recently, adoption has been driven primarily by cost saving motivations and have centred on main propulsion and other critical components.

In some cases, fleet managers and superintendents who have sought to embrace big data have found themselves in receipt of more than they can reasonably process and take action on. This has created an opportunity for third party service providers to offer integrated vessel performance solutions – often in partnership with class or OEMs – that can provide optimisation analysis against design and other parameters.

Sailing in new directions

Achieving meaningful vessel performance monitoring relies on three factors; the onboard interaction between vessel and crew, understanding the actual environmental conditions in which the vessel is operating and the customer pressure points on the industry.

The principal pressure point remains access to information for the owner or manager and the ability to share that data in a uniform way with partners and customers, a task that calls for a new approach to data analysis and vessel management.

Shipping companies have practised business intelligence techniques for years but this has tended to be a spreadsheet-driven activity focussed on a handful of key metrics in understanding vessel performance. It is also a process that has tended to come as much out of necessity as design.

When a charterer wants to check whether the owner was in compliance with terms of their charter party based on fuel consumed, or if a shipowner wants to understand whether newbuildings are performing to the contract specification, the data used to be gathered retrospectively if at all.

One reason historically for the lack of a data-driven or real-time monitoring process is the noon report – the standard (though far from standardised) means of providing key data from ship to shore. Often collated manually and produced in different formats for different users, the noon report was ripe for an overhaul and a new life as source of business intelligence.

With shipyards increasingly wiring up newbuildings and equipment manufacturers fitting more and more sensing and monitoring equipment, it has become possible to make the noon report a tool for understanding vessel performance and acting on the data it can provide.

Among the data technologies that are having the greatest impact on shipping are a new generation of weather routing services. Driven by a combination of regulatory and operational demands and pushed along by the growth in satellite bandwidth, operators can now take advantage of high quality, high resolution data on a region by region basis.

For owners and operators, better data and information can feed directly into enhanced fleet and voyage management, whether this is driven by compliance or commercial reasons. Leveraging the cloud to share that data and optimise vessel performance can create the roadmap which leads to smarter shipping.

As a result, there is a tangible growth in interest in use of metocean data for voyage optimisation, from both bigger players with large fleets and smaller ones interested in improving vessel performance.

Another major trend is the increased use of management systems that can combine layers of information to display a complete fleet operation on one dashboard. A superintendent who manages 20-30 vessels can easily integrate weather, tides and currents with other voyage data.

The ability to manage large numbers of ships or even multiple fleets used to be a case of employing as many experienced former mariners as you could find. A decade of cost cutting has done for this strategy, with fewer people running more ships.

For owners embracing fleet management, there are a growing number of platforms that can be used to enhance visibility not just of fleet positions but also regulatory and performance data. Providers have been able to integrate publicly-available position data with information on vessel voyage plan, speed, fuel consumption together with risk and regulated areas on a single screen.

The boom in such systems has depended as much on the ability to use APIs to connect data sources to management platforms as on the ability to collect the data itself. With this standard now a commonplace, operators and managers can take the feeds they need for navigation data, weather, position, security and piracy and regulatory geofencing and see this in real time alongside their vessels’ progress against schedule with key performance indicators.

Adopting fleet management not only allows for a single window into corporate operations but also a means to share data and information with other stakeholders, be that charterer, customer, class, flag or insurer and in real time instead of after the fact.

Communications the enabler

For decades, while shipping was a connected industry, it was a case of think before you dial or click send. Until recently the costs of real time communications have been too high to enable the sort of smart shipping that we hear so much about.

Today, the critical element to all the above technologies and many more beside is not the data, or even the software but the communications platform that enables it. Owners and managers might continue to complain that relative costs are too high, but it should be remembered that in real terms the cost per megabyte of data has never been lower.

Part of the reason for this is the huge addition of capacity to what has traditionally been an undersupplied market. New constellations of high throughput satellite capacity are coming onstream rapidly across the bandwidth spectrum and designed to address the market more accurately than ever before.

It is no longer a case of everyone being obliged to buy the same system from which some will get better value than others. The network operators are finally addressing merchant, cruise, passenger, offshore, fishing and yachting as the distinct markets they have always been.

Communications also works harder than ever before. Hardware solutions from the service providers do not just compress data, they offer built-in services such as email, pre-pay, cyber intrusion prevention, segregated, prioritised networks and much better reporting for fleet managers.

Old, expensive voice lines have been supplanted by voice over IP data channels and the flexibility of data options available from providers reflect the fact that they too are competing hard for the owners’ dollar.

In 2018, shipping finds itself at a confluence of positive trends. An improving supply/demand picture for the most part is mirrored by the availability of new technology that makes it easier to comply with regulation and operate in a more efficient and optimised way.

Certainly challenges remain and some observers continue to believe that shipping will have to contend with large scale disruption to its business and operational models. Whether this proves to be true, there is no reason why operators and managers cannot take steps to make their businesses more efficient and connected.

While to adopt such a strategy requires outlay in terms of time and resources, the alternative business-as-usual scenario creates much bigger risks. Loss of competitive edge cannot always be fixed by cutting costs; retaining it means recognising that customers are looking for greater value from their service providers – shipping included.

By Rashid Baba
a/Chief Commercial Officer

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Digital shipping will mean harnessing communications, technology and data

With a speaker on every conference platform telling us shipping is ripe for technological disruption, the industry is arguably facing its biggest challenge since the invention of the shipping container.

In some ways history is repeating itself. When he first proposed the concept, Malcom Mclean was met with resistance from all quarters but he demonstrated that a simple idea could revolutionise an industry and in the process drive a boom in global trade.

But McLean’s story also contains a warning; that innovation is not a one-off event but a continuous state and that one success does not constitute a trend. Wrong-footed by an era of cheap oil and increasing service speeds, his next venture went bust and later bets on rising oil prices consumed his considerable fortune.

McLean would have needed extraordinary foresight to have got the market right every time, but many of the same issues cloud the ability of today’s shipping leaders to see the future of their business with great clarity.

The key to doing so is not gut feel but data; arguably the element with as much potential to impact an industry as fuel prices or economic growth had in previous decades. But if data is the shipping container of the 21st century, then another major difference between today and the 1950s is another revolution we have come to take for granted: communications.

Mobile, global and able to cross borders at increasing speed, today’s owners can take advantage of proliferating services, higher throughput and lower costs. So transformational is the technology that its limitations now are to some extent, the applications we can devise for it.

So given the need and opportunity for change in shipping, how do owners separate fact from fiction when it comes to the big tech trends: platforms, AI, 3-D printing and the need for new business models. At the same time, what strategies should shipowners, operators and managers adopt to realise the short term benefits onboard and ashore?

Value propositions

In order to benefit from digitalisation, ship owners and operators will need to create sustained value from digitalisation and just adopt what might be seen as a traditional ‘cost management’ approach. But this is far easier to assert in theory than to deliver in practice.

This analysis is not simply a ‘nice to have’ strategy that can be laid across an existing shipping model with the hope that it fits. There are firm reasons to believe that the cyclical model of shipping is itself incapable of competing in the new digital economy.

Certainly some old certainties have been swept away. There is now no limit on shipyard capacity, theoretical or otherwise. The world’s major trading nations include one no international shipping fleet of its own and another which wants to control its own supply chains.

The pressing need to develop better value proposition has some early adopters, companies who have tried to define how value can be constructed from digitalisation and to build a strategy – and not just a set of tactics – around it.

One very traditional shipowner, Torvald Klaveness, decided to try and understand everything its competitors were doing as well as its own assets and share the results with customers. The visibility brought by data and communications enabled it to create a platform that provided full visibility to the most opaque of markets and improve its competitive edge.

Trends to Watch

The biggest tech trends are also probably of most interest in the long term. 3D printing will increasingly find its way into vessel componentry, repairs and spare parts but the milestones to date have been about proof of concept rather than business case. Neither quick nor cheap at present, we will see a continued trickle down of the technology until it is both.

Likewise Artificial Intelligence is a concept whose impact can be interpreted in many different ways. Industrial users are already taking advantage of learning algorithms, automated reporting systems and more risk-based, predictive operations. In the shipping industry, applications that use AI to analyse behaviours in the logistic chain, risk scenarios and enable better planning and contingency measures are planned or already in operation.

Augmented Reality is likely to have an impact on the industry sooner as it combines the practical benefit of better communications with the need to provide support to remote workers who can benefit directly from the input of specialists in tackling complex technical challenges.

What can be said for certain is that shipping is joined the era of the platform. Those already established include the many vessel tracking services, DNV’s Veracity and other class society initiatives as well as the numerous Blockchain partnerships.

Blockchain in particular is one of the most exciting initiatives to have come from the programmer/hacker community, providing a means of securing digital information flow in an industry that is still awash with paper shipping documents. If Blockchain has challenges they are on the one hand its association with crypto-currencies and on the other that the computing power it requires will keep it securely on dry land for the foreseeable future.

Paths to Follow

In terms of how to move forward, the first observation for any CEO or fleet manager is that a digital strategy driven by communications demands security. Just as it is not enough to presume that it won’t happen to you, it is foolish to believe that cyber security is another example of IT hype that can be ignored.

Accepting the assertion that there are two types of companies; the hacked and those that don’t yet know it, means that a digital data strategy must put cyber at its heart and that this starts at C-level and travels all the way to the seafarer.

The number of service providers falling over themselves to offer security audits, certification and applications demonstrates the need to choose wisely but the fact remains, data demands security; it is an enabler on your strategy, not a constraint.

The example of Klaveness in cracking open its fleet operations could certainly be termed Big Data and there are a number of projects that claim this title. As a result, it can be a daunting prospect to try and establish which data a company needs to collect, manage and act on – and why.

For the most part owners and operators have traditionally been focussed on the low hanging fruit – fuel consumption and vessel performance. This reflects both the relative prices prior to 2008 and the fact that without the ability to reduce crew numbers, fuel is the biggest ticket.

Fleet owners and operators now need to think much more broadly about their performance. A decade of low fuel prices will come to an end in 2020 when the global sulfur cap is in effect and carriers will need to understand where value can be gained and savings made.

In addition, the regulatory burden that owners work under is set to become increasingly electronic and data driven. Reporting will increase once the agenda is set for shipping’s strategy on carbon emissions and other environmental regulations.

Not all data is big

The future confluence of regulatory reporting and performance data is something many software vendors have already noticed and are capitalising upon. But the issue of gathering and working successfully with big data is one that continues to pose practical challenges. Classification Society ABS noted some years ago that the data it could collect on vessel performance was more than enough to overwhelm the recipient.

This is in part because managers like to see information presented in uniform ways and also because there is a clear need to focus on the outliers and exceptions.

This enables the owners to concentrate on the issues that need most attention rather than wade through lakes of data in the hope of catching something. The next logical stage of this evolution is condition-based monitoring of hull and machinery, a concept already employed by OEMs and now being extended to the whole ship.

This ‘digital twin’ concept could radically alter the process of ship management and operations, with data streaming to dashboards that enable a more holistic analysis of the vessel’s condition.

But not all data needs to be big to be effective. In 2015 Maersk launched a monitoring programme to track each of its 270,000 refrigerated containers by fitting them with sensors that enabled two-way communication through cellular and satellite networks.

Maersk set up the project for its own needs and used it to monitor the temperature of each box and make adjustments depending on the vessel schedule, as well as track maintenance and schedule repairs.

In the process it saved millions of dollars in cargo claims, despite the data required being comparatively small, relying as it does on a hybrid shipboard network and satellite connectivity. In June 2017, Maersk opened up the programme to shippers and so far 1,000 beneficial cargo owners have signed up, checking their shipments in real-time with the system and increasing supply chain.

Sometimes - as the humble container reminds us - the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

By Rashid Baba
a/Chief Commercial Officer

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Change will come, but not unless we make it happen

Where is shipping today in terms of adopting digital technology? Thuraya's A/CCO Rashid Baba writes there is real value in some basic concepts such as greater automation with better communications, focused on driving efficiency, reducing costs and improving safety. He believes the same infrastructure can be used to drive new business models and better working environments.

This article was first published in the Singapore-based publication, Splash. 

The consensus view on shipping for 2018 is that, even if the markets do not see a rapid improvement this year, then certainly the industry is finally emerging into a period of better supply/demand balance. After a year in which the opportunity for technological change contrasted with a familiar story of poor financial performance, there is a feeling that improvement is somehow inevitable. An increase in the cost of money as the global economy returns to growth could potentially support the investments of long term shipping players and even deter fresh investment from purely speculative players. Some kind of return to the concept of industrial shipping based on relationships and even partnerships over competition could follow.

However this scenario fails to take account of the second factor: the impact of technology and particularly digitalisation on business processes that have enjoyed some insulation from disruption until now. The common narrative of 2017 was that digitalisation offers the best opportunity – if not an imperative – for change in shipping.

The flip side of this argument is that technology disruption presents risks almost as great as those of financial and operational sustainability. We also need to keep its impact in perspective. Digitalisation is not a new phenomenon.

Industrialised economies digitised in a continuous process from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s until the present day. For sure, the pace and depth of technology development have quickened but the industry needs to understand where the value lies for the maritime industry.

Thuraya believes that it exists in some fundamental concepts: greater automation with better communications focussed on driving efficiency, reducing cost and improving safety. Once these concepts are embedded, the same infrastructure can be used to drive new business models and better working relationships.

Maritime markets in perspective

You don’t have to look far to see that a majority of shipping industry practitioners believe that 2018 is going to be a better year for the industry than 2017. This groundswell picked up pace during the second half of the year and reached something of a crescendo with one broker’s claim that the markets held ‘the best opportunity for 30 years’ rather than merely the last 10.

In reality, most sectors have some way to go to shake out lingering problems. A concerted period of ordering restraint has been good for the dry bulk market and Chinese environmental policy has been driving iron ore imports and the freight market along with it. Welcome relief to be sure but whether a recovery so weighted to one nation’s economy is desirable is another question. The buoyant mood will see plenty of volatility in the year to come.

The tanker sector, having seen its recovery washed away by over-ordering of new tonnage is probably neutral overall in 2018. Optimists can construct an upside scenario of growing oil demand and better seaborne exports, lower fleet growth, stock drawdowns and a firm refining market, but the consensus is for no sustained recovery before 2019.

Containership capacity continues to be a major challenge to liner operator profitability, but the tactical response of further consolidation and the continued upsizing of vessel newbuildings is failing to deliver long-term balance sheet improvements. There are bright spots here too, but the mainstay Asia-Europe trades look likely to see challenging trading conditions.

The offshore market meanwhile, is still mired in over-valuation of assets built at premiums that look optimistic against today’s oil price. That price showed improvement as 2017 ended and many will be hoping that OPEC strategy can continue to support the price for longer than short-term political and technical factors.

Technology first or last?

Shipping’s fundamental challenges are not all about the markets. There are big structural issues, not least continued shipyard overcapacity in Asia, the cost of current and future regulatory compliance and the end of the carbon economy.

While some of these threaten to undermine a recovery – notably the willingness of governments to view shipyards as strategic industries requiring financial support – the demands of regulatory compliance could actually support the market by forcing the hands of owners unwilling to invest in upgrades and preferring to remove tonnage from the market.

But despite a reputation for being too traditional and a laggard in adopting new technology, shipping is in some ways proving itself adaptive to change. It has shown a willingness to embrace new concepts such as alternative fuels and is looking at new ship designs and propulsion concepts as well as autonomous vessels.

It has so far had less success with digital technology – in fact it is only just waking up to the potential impact of global connectedness and is some way from feeling the full benefits. But the adjustment is taking place at an increasing pace, not least because attitudes are changing as a generational shift takes place and technology-phobia recedes.

Even so, the reality is that many owners, operators and managers have yet to appreciate how much of a positive difference can be derived from embracing digital technology. This is perhaps because they are yet to be convinced of a proven return on investment, or, if they have understood the opportunity, then how to grasp it is less obvious.

Despite all the talk of disruption and Uberisation, shipping is for the most part still at the data gathering stage. Some leaders began this process sooner and will benefit faster but there are no magic bullets. Even some of the best-known names are working on ways to generate higher levels of efficiency using data, automation and communications to improve their business processes.

Change for good?

The more fundamental question is whether the business models – and with them the mind-set of the industry – can successfully adapt. This requires people, many of whom got their roles in a different era, to engage more and more with concepts that encourage not just communication but collaboration too.

Should the industry fear companies like Amazon as a competitor or embrace them as a customer and partner? Can the veil of secrecy that has protected profit margins for decades be lifted in the cause of better customer relationships?

Owners and operators need to embrace the change, but they are the ones that need to be convinced before they make the investment decisions.

It makes sense to draw some distinctions. For the mostpart, comparisons to the –aeronautical industry are unhelpful, as they don’t reflect the fragmented nature of vessel design, shipbuilding, shipping or port operations.

It remains a fact that this tech landscape is dominated by a handful of players able to command huge swathes of consolidated internet real estate. Shipping is hugely fragmented and very diverse, but it is still highly effective at its core tasks because it was designed for purpose.

There is a small but growing number of owners and managers who have grasped that greater transparency and better connectivity can be a support to their business. This is recognition of the fact that to being a digital business means behaving in a different way from what went before and that to try and solve new problems with old tools cannot be a successful strategy.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the owners who fared best over the last 10 years are the ones that were closest to their operations, that know not just their businesses but their people and assets inside out. For them, data, connectivity and greater integration between ship and shore is the new reality of day to day business.

A new course

2018 is likely to be an interesting year for the maritime industry, perhaps a watershed for those owners who are well-positioned. An improvement in market conditions is a convenient way for the naysayers to suggest that shipping can carry on as before. Even the simplest analysis shows that this will not the case.

In 2001, the beginnings of an unprecedented shipping super-cycle came to the rescue of an industry which had seen millions of dollars of value destroyed in the dotcom boom. Today’s digital technology has moved on a long way since then but one thing is clear, the economic cycle will not by itself be enough to save the market this time. New technology might be the missing link after all.

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Thuraya Gains New Aero Customer Ahead of Singapore Airshow 2018


Satellite M2M, The IoT, And The Public Sector

Accelerating national interests with remote IoT connectivity 

Little did Kevin Ashton know in 1999 that a catchy term he once used in a presentation about tracking technology would captivate the tech world 15 years later. “Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to a concept that’s been around for decades, but one that only became a buzzword in 2014 with Google’s acquisition of home device automation company Nest.

While organizations have been using connected devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) networks for a long time, the real potential of the IoT phenomenon has only been explored and universally attested recently. Today, IoT is all the rage and for good reason - there’s no doubt that its implementation is the way forward for developing more efficient, responsive, and reliable systems that gather data, generate insight, and  intuitively take actions in light of those decisions.

With a growing understanding of its wide-scale application and cost-cutting capabilities across vertical markets, the public sector has taken a keen interest in IoT and M2M technologies. After China took the initial step to add IoT to its strategic plans in 2010, governments worldwide have allocated annual budgets for M2M integration in countrywide projects. This year alone, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is reported to have dedicated $8B to IoT infrastructure.

As these technologies grow congruent with daily life, satellite-based IoT is increasingly relevant to the mix. Given that IoT devices are primarily used to eliminate the need for human interface, as well as provide real-time automated monitoring and control across distances, it’s often essential to enable its functioning in remote regions that lie outside the range of terrestrial network coverage.

Furthering Government Prospects & Public Welfare

Satellite connectivity is an absolute necessity in the optimized adoption of M2M technology, especially in the case of government-run projects involving diverse industries and dispersed assets across the country. It enables the collation and exchange of data — in real-time — from many inaccessible points and industrial zones to one central monitoring hub, enabling smart and efficient processes while reducing time, money, and personnel requirements on extensive operations.

Below, we explore how satellite M2M is integral, across the board, to public sector interests:

Safety and Security — One of the top priorities of any government is to ensure the safety and security of the nation and safeguard its borders, territories, population, and resources. IoT solutions like seismic sensors are ideal for use in remote border security and perimeter monitoring by civil defense and military teams. Real-time video surveillance, for example, is an enhanced capability in border protection. Many governmental authorities already have expressed interest in deploying these telemetry solutions for civil defense missions. Additionally, all critical infrastructure requires monitoring, especially in far-off, unmanned areas. Even private organizations working in remote regions, such as oil fields, have to adhere to government protocols for safety, often achieved via satellite-enabled remote asset control terminals.

Harvesting Green Energy — This is big on the to-do list of many environmentally-focused public sector agencies. As natural resources are fast depleting, there is an urgent global call to harness clean energy and develop sustainable practices. Remote connectivity is essential to efficiently monitor solar and wind farms, as well as other renewable energy sources. With a smarter understanding of how inaccessible appliances are working, personnel are better equipped to boost the production of clean energy.

Resource Protection — Government agencies have begun collaborating with satcom partners to use satellite M2M solutions for the smart monitoring of groundwater levels, and to manage and conserve water supplies in order to prevent droughts. In such cases, IoT solutions are ideal for helping to safeguard resources. Satellite M2M services can be used to study weather systems and forecast impending climate changes; monitor regions prone to calamities, like earthquakes and forest fires; and protect endangered habitats, as well as inland and aquatic resources.

Utilities — While utilities are often offered by private companies, they usually still fall under the jurisdiction of government authorities. With the introduction of smart metering and the monitoring of power grids and treatment plants outside areas of mobile coverage, satellite M2M delivers a scalable, efficient solution in high-volume data collection for electricity, gas, and water authorities. Moreover, an IoT solution helps ease the stress of meeting increasing demand for utilities, as consumption and supply are better managed with timely detections in delivery networks — for example, with smart sensors that can swiftly detect water pipe leakages.

Banking — Banking as an industry has been using an early IoT prototype — the ATM — for decades, lending customers access to financial services without having to meet a bank teller. Over the years, these virtual transaction trends have moved towards mobile banking services, and governments now are taking measures to add more efficiency to banking procedures. These steps include setting up real-time video for customer support and surveillance at ‘smart ATMs’; customized offers to smartphones, using beacon technology, when customers enter a bank branch; and POS terminals at establishments that allow customers the convenience of secure credit or debit card transactions from their phones.

IoT services by way of satellite offer many more applications — from smart agriculture, transportation, and fuel management to cargo and personnel tracking. As knowledge and legislation for convergence technologies become pervasive, governments around the world are set to embrace IoT solutions in every relevant industry.

Creating Benefits That Outweigh Risks

While most agree on the benefits of IoT, there are no doubt technological, regulatory, and other dilemmas associated with its implementation. That said, public authorities generally are open to new tech solutions, as long as they don’t compromise on information data security. As we rush towards an ever more connected future, the danger of hacking looms larger. Moreover, increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), while spectacular in its capabilities, comes with its own problems — a reduction in human factor with such technologies implies that system errors are harder to find, stop, and fix.

These examples pose an ongoing challenge for IoT service providers: to develop highly resilient IoT platforms with advanced encryption, as well as early warning and predictive systems. It’s our responsibility to not only develop intuitive capabilities for data exchange and monitoring, but also for elaborate protection and data leak detection. Another important factor when dealing with users from the government sector is timeliness; authorities are constantly bombarded with services and solutions and have rigid roadmaps and procurement plans.

As service providers, we need to distinguish ourselves not just with our product portfolios, but by having a superior understanding of the public sector’s operational needs and purchase cycles. It’s vital to know when to approach public agencies with a sale, and to be ready for how long the integration process may take in order to be recognized as a preferred partner for smart government needs, emphasizing solutions and not just products.

Connectivity In The Near Future

Despite the aforementioned hurdles, governments usually include IoT in their annual plans in some form or shape. Currently, the percentage spent is rather negligible in terms of overall budgets; private sector undertakings in the same vein are certainly moving at a more rigorous pace in comparison, and the public domain has a lot of catching up to do.

However, with the rising trend in smart urban spaces and smart cities, there is a surge in joint IoT initiatives as public and private entities work together on shared goals for their locale. The Asia-Pacific nations take a lead here — as Amy Kean of Mindshare Asia Pacific recently mentioned, this region is most eager to adapt to a connected future. Satellite service providers likewise have a lot more to tap into when it comes to IoT offerings; the future is rife with possibilities to further develop resilient IoT platforms with AI, data mining, and big data capabilities, which will be especially beneficial for governments.

About the Author

As Thuraya’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jassem Nasser leads the strategy and business development division, which includes Corporate Strategy, M&A, and investigating new ventures outside the company’s core MSS business. Jassem also manages Thuraya’s Corporate Affairs, including Regulatory and Spectrum Management & Development. Jassem has over 16 years of experience in the satellite industry, including roles providing strategic direction and overseeing spectrum and frequency management. He has been involved in setting up and managing a start-up satellite organization and guiding the company through its various stages of development by devising strategic direction and priorities, identifying and selection strategic options. Jassem earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications Engineering with first class honors from Khalifa University (UAE).

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