Dubai's Thuraya expects 10% rise in revenue

Satellite phone company also eyes double-digit gain next year amid growing demand

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Dubai satellite phone company Thuraya expects to post a 10 percent rise in revenue this year and make a further double-digit gain in 2013 as growing demand for data offsets stagnating earnings from calls.

Thuraya, which provides communications to government, energy, media and maritime customers, operates two satellites that cover 140 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

The company's services are sold on a wholesale basis, with local agents dealing with customers directly, while South Korea's APSI manufactures Thuraya's handsets to the Dubai firm's specifications.

After revenue growth slumped from 2007, Thuraya - 28 percent owned by United Arab Emirates telecom operator Etisalat - revamped its business plan to focus more on data and also to boost earnings from its Asia satellite, chief executive Samer Halawi told Reuters.

Thuraya's revenue are up about 10 percent in 2012, Halawi said, forecasting revenue will make another double-digit increase in 2013.

A comparable figure for 2011 was not available. Thuraya does not disclose its earnings because the company is privately held.

"This is coming at a time when the industry was slowing down," said Halawi, who took the helm in January 2011. "Voice is a stagnant business. We were over-reliant on voice."

Data subscribers are up about 60 percent in 2012 compared with a year earlier, while the company has doubled its revenue from Asia, Halawi said. Overall, it has about 200,000 subscribers, split between voice and data.

"Voice still has the lion's share of our revenue, but data is growing at a much faster rate," he said. "Data will surpass voice within the next couple of years."

Thuraya says it has a 65 percent revenue share in the markets and sectors it operates in.

Qatar Telecom holds about an 8 percent stake in the company.

Rival operator Inmarsat posted a 5 percent rise in third-quarter revenue in November.

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