Australian services unrecoverable after Thuraya satellite breakdown


Thuraya’s satellite phones no longer work in Australia after a “sustained force majeure event” has taken Yahsat’s Thuraya-3 satellite out of action

Abu Dhabi-based Yahsat first announced that its Thuraya-3 mobile communications satellite had experienced a major outage on April 15, warning that related services would be significantly diminished.

Launched back in 2008, the Thuraya-3 satellite provided L-band satellite services via its dedicated satellite phone, predominantly over South and East Asia and the Pacific region.

Exactly what technical fault had occurred to the satellite is unclear, but attempts to restore services on the satellite appear to have failed, with Yahsat last week announcing that the “sustained force majeure event” would make recovery impossible.

Now, however, the company says it has managed to restore services to some parts of the Indo-China region, including Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Western Malaysia, Western Indonesia, Singapore, and the majority of China. This was achieved by reconfiguring Thuraya-3’s sister satellite, Thuraya-2 satellite, which operates over East Arica, to cover the affected region.

Even after reconfiguration, however, Thuraya-2 cannot extend to Australia, leaving Australian customers without access to satellite connectivity, including emergency services.

As such, Australian satellite service provider Pivotel, which uses Thuraya’s services, has been forced to offer customers alternative services from the likes of Inmarsat and Iridium at a reduced price.

The failure of Thuraya-3 has been described by Pivotel as ‘very disappointing’, given that an audit of the device conducted by its manufacturer Boeing on behalf of Thuraya in 2020 suggested it would be serviceable until 2031.

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