Thuraya Monitoring System 1- The Thuraya Personal Satellite Communications System The Thuraya network has been in operation since early 2001, and is currently based on the Thuraya-2 geostationary satellite in an inclined orbit at a longitude of approximately 44° East.
The Thuraya system provides telecommunications coverage to Europe, North, Central and some parts of Southern Africa, the Middle East, West and Central Asia, and the Asian Subcontinent, including more than 110 countries.
Using a reduced capacity Thuraya-1 satellite at 98° East, provides some areas of the Far-East. In January 2007 the Thuraya-3 satellite was launched into the current location of the Thuraya-1 satellite, this new satellite has extended the coverage area of the Thuraya network to areas of Central and Eastern Russia and the Far East, including the eastern and south-eastern areas of mainland Asia, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
Since its introduction, the Thuraya system has proven to be extremely popular and exceeded the 150,000 subscriber barrier by the mid-2003, and it is estimated to currently have in the region of 340,000 subscribers Thuraya forecast that they will ultimately achieve 1 .75 million subscribers.
One of its main appeals is to people living or traveling in the remote areas of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where terrestrial infrastructure is not in place.
The Thuraya network is designed to support 13,750 simultaneous telephone calls, and in some countries typical call levels are known to exceed 2,000 calls per hour.
2- The Strategic Thuraya Monitoring System
2.1- Principles of the Strategic Thuraya Monitoring System Operation
The strategic Thuraya Monitoring System (TMS) offered by TRL is designed to passively
intercept downlinks from the Thuraya satellite at C-Band and L-Band.
An L-Band antenna receives transmissions from the network to the Thuraya handset (MES),
and a C-band antenna receives transmissions from the Thuraya handset to the network via the
The new system is designed to provide full duplex call interception and recording for all calls
passing through a cluster of seven spotbeams centered on the geographical location of the
installed system. It may be possible to perform duplex call intercept on other nearby
spotbeams, but this cannot be guaranteed due to frequency reuse implemented on the Thuraya
network at L-Band.
Additionally, with the inclusion of the optional Transportable Remote L-Band Monitoring
System, all calls passing through an additional cluster of seven spotbeams centered on the
geographical position of the remote system, may be intercepted and recorded.
In addition to the call intercept, the strategic TMS has the capability to monitor call activity for all
spotbeams transmitted by the Thuraya satellite, by receiving the C-band signaling information.
The proposed system has the capacity to monitor 25 such spotbeams.
Where the system is able to perform C- and L-Band monitoring of a given spotbeam, the
following data is recorded by the system for every call:
• Date and time of the call
• A 4 or 5 digit subset of the IMSI of the MES
• The GPS position of the MES
• The telephone number dialled by the MES (in Mobile Originated calls only)
• TheTMSI of the MES
• The Ciphering Key Sequence Number
• The RAND
• The Encryption Algorithm implement on the call
TRL has now identified, tested and verified the functionality of a Thuraya Cryptanalysis and
Decryption device provided by a third-party company. This company is a proven supplier of
passive GSM monitoring systems including A5/2 cryptanalysis and decryption. The Thuraya
cryptanalysis and decryption unit is their complete solution, developed as a result of
determining the Thuraya encryption algorithm and developing their existing GSM cryptanalysis
product to process the Thuraya traffic.
This solution when connected to the Strategic Thuraya Monitoring System provides the
capability for the play-back of audio voice calls and the display of the SMS, fax and data
2.2.1- Additional Functionality Available with a Cryptanalysis Solution
With the Thuraya cryptanalysis and decryption solution integrated with the strategic TMS, the
following additional information becomes available from calls intercepted in a full duplex C and
L-band monitoring system:
• Human Comprehensible Call Content. This would include live and archived stereo
audio playback of voice calls, and presentation of decoded SMS and fax. Additionally, a
range of commercial data protocols would also be supported for decoding data
transmitted over the Thuraya network.
• MES IMEI. The IMEI of the MES would be recorded, significantly enhancing the ability to
identify and track particular Thuraya terminals.
• Calling Line Identity Presentation (CLIP). The telephone number of call originator would
be available on some calls. In particular, the telephone number of the land-line in fixed
originated calls, and the telephone number of both parties in a Thuraya terminal to
terminal call would become available.
Cryptographic and Cryptanalysis technology is subject to export control by the governments of
many Western countries, including the United Kingdom. Upon development of a GMR-1
cryptanalysis solution, any European or North American developer would be obliged to apply to
their respective governments for permission to export the solution.
2.3- A Typical Strategic Thuraya Monitoring System
Atypical TMS system would include:
• Full duplex interception of Thuraya calls for terminals located within the same spotbeam
as the monitoring system, and up to 6 spotbeams immediately adjacent to that central
• Antenna system, including a 9.3m C-Band antenna and demodulator subsystem for
monitoring of up to 1088 simultaneous calls in the area covered by the main installation –
including GPS co-ordinates of mobile terminals
• Analysis subsystem, complete with 6 server computers and 8 analysis workstations
complete with TMS analysis software
• Full Operator, Administrator and Maintainer training programs, held both at TRL and at the
customer’s site if required
• Comprehensive operation and support documentation
• Full warranty for the first year
• The option of a Remote L-Band Unit, to extend the interception coverage of the
monitoring system, to another group of up to 7 spotbeams anywhere within the Thuraya
• C-band Only monitoring of Terminal activity in any Thuraya spotbeam on the satellite. Up
to 35 spotbeams can be monitored in the default configuration This monitoring provides…
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