Thuraya satellite phone config for Windows


On a WinXP PC, the dial-up connection is configured using the standard Windows Dial Up Networking function, where you enter the ISP's telephone number, login and password. Thuraya offers its own in-house dial-up ISP whose telephone number is 1722 (login and password are both blank); it connects in about 45 seconds and the billing starts then. Authentication and DHCP takes another 15 seconds or so. Alternatively, you can dial up your existing domestic ISP - if they offer a dial-up service; not all ADSL ISPs do and not all of those support incoming digital calls (satellite or GSM data calls are equivalent to V-110/ISDN) and not all of those have dial-in numbers which can be dialled from abroad. Finally, there is the option of dialling up one of the countless "free dialup" ISPs who make their money from the UK 0845 call termination commission; I tested Primax Internet and later Free Dialup. A satellite is effectively a "country" with its own country code; every call with a satellite phone is thus an international call and not all 0845 or similar numbers can be dialled from abroad. I don't see any point in using one of these "free" ISPs, other than as a backup for Thuraya's 1722 service.

GPRS is configured the same way as dial-up - it is treated as a "dial-up" connection under Windows - but the number dialled is *99# . The connection time on GPRS is much faster than dial-up: around 5 seconds followed by another 10 seconds for DHCP. Delays should not matter much on GPRS because you pay only for the data, but you do pay for the DHCP part. I found that the quality/availability of the GPRS service is much more variable than with dial-up, in both the number of failed connection attempts and the data rate actually achieved.


Thuraya/Hughes 7100 Set-Up Instructions

If your 7100 phone may have been messed with, go into Settings and do the Reset command. This does a factory reset.

The 7100 phone works straight out of the box, using the USB-RS232 converter cable. No configuration is required on the phone. Well, almost! You first have to make a voice call with it, to any plausible number. You get a Thuraya automated menu which asks you to specify the language. Choose 1 for English, then 1 again to confirm English. Then it actually works. This idiotic feature has probably wasted many man-years of support time.

There are no Windows drivers for the 7100 phone. It emulates a generic Hayes modem.

On the PC, install the Thuraya driver for the USB-RS232 converter cable. If your PC has a real physical RS232 port then just plug in a Thuraya 7100 RS232 cable which has a DB9 connector on it. The USB driver creates a virtual COM port, e.g. COM8. The Thuraya USB cable uses the old Prolific PL2303 chip, which does not have a unique device ID, so it does matter which USB port you use. You can use any USB port, even via a hub, but if you later plug the phone into a different USB port, the COM number will change and everything stops working!

The dial-up connection is created within Windows in the standard way, described partly under SG-2520 below. I recommend selecting a generic 19200 baud modem, on the COM port previously created by the above driver. The data link runs at 9600 bits/sec but you don't want the PC-phone connection to be a bottleneck, especially as there might be significant compression taking place. And the phone's PC interface cannot be set to higher than 19200.

This document shows how to create a dial-up connection under Windows, with the 7100. It's very simple.

There is some evidence that some of the options in the Dial Up Networking configuration (in WinXP etc) can prevent getting a usable internet connection. I was never able to get to the bottom of this (against the background of occassional poor service from Thuraya) but it appears that the default Windows settings, which get created when a new Dial Up Networking connection is created using the wizard, work fine. The following screenshots illustrate the main configs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. In particular, the Negotiate Multilink option almost certainly needs to be OFF.

Another gotcha, which does seem to be taken care of by the default settings of the Windows "generic 19200 baud modem", is that when the 1722 number is dialed (using the usual ATDT1722 command), Thuraya doesn't return a carrier for quite a while - some tens of seconds. In fact DHCP takes about 45 seconds to complete, from the moment of the dial command. The PC must not give up for at least 60 seconds! It turns out that the relevant parameter is indeed 60 seconds but you cannot change it; stupidly it greyed out in the modem config. The only generic modem driver whose wait time is not greyed out is the "generic 56k modem" and I never got around to testing that one with the 7100 (obviously one would need to configure the baud rate to 19200, and this needs to be done in at least two places!).

A more consistent feature of Thuraya's internet service is that their nameserver (DNS) often doesn't work - at least not over the satellite phone link. This is evident in that sites addressed by a numeric IP work OK but ones addressed by a domain name do not. I have found that changing the DNS (under TCP/IP Properties) from Automatic to using Google's open DNS servers ( and solves this, and does no harm anyway. If you are accessing a specific site a lot, map its URL to its IP in the lmhosts file; under winXP this is normally at C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc.


Thuraya SG-2520 or additional Thuraya XT Set-Up Instructions

There are two parts to the process: configuring the phone and configuring the "PC" device.

Phone Configuration

The following (may not exist on every phone) makes the phone's USB port look like a modem.

1. Menu - Settings - System - External Connect - select USB modem
2. Exit with Close

The following enables the Bluetooth function.
On the SG-2502, due to a firmware bug, this config change needs to be done following every power-up:

1. Menu - Connectivity - Bluetooth
2. Check the following boxes: Bluetooth ON, My Visibility Show, Modem DUN, Authorisation DUN
3. Exit with Close

The above covers both operating modes: dial-up internet or GPRS internet.


PC Configuration - Bluetooth connection to SG-2520 phone

The following is based on WinXP.

For the SG-2520: My Bluetooth Places - Search For Devices - (select the SG-2520 phone when found) - Pair Device
Choose a pass code (e.g. 1234) and enter the same in the phone when it asks for it.

Now, if you go to Control Panel - Phone & Modem Options - Modems you should see a "Bluetooth Fax Modem" on COM10 (or some other COM port #) in the list.

Now you need to create a dial-up network connection which uses this modem:

Go to Control Panel - Network Connections - New Connection Wizard - Connect to the Internet - Set up my connection manually - Connect using a dial-up modem - (select the Bluetooth Fax Modem and check its box) - (Enter "Thuraya", or anything else you like, for the ISP name; it's irrelevant) - (Enter *99# (4 characters as shown) for the phone number) - (leave username & password blank) - Finish. Under Options, select "redial if line is dropped" - unless using a 3rd party dialler which implements auto redial on a ping fail in which case disable any automatic redial within Windows.


PC Configuration - USB cable connection to SG-2520 or XT phone

The following is based on WinXP.

SG-2520: Install the SG-2520 software from the Thuraya CD. This installs USB drivers and Microsoft Active-Sync, all in one go. I recommend uninstalling (using Control Panel - Add/Remove Programs) the Active-Sync software unless you really want it for a specific purpose.

XT: See the latest stuff on the Thuraya website.

Connect the phone to the PC using the supplied USB data cable. The PC will now discover several new devices, including a modem. On occassions it will ask whether you want to install software which is not Microsoft certified; answer Yes.

Now, if you go to Control Panel - Phone & Modem Options - Modems you should see a "Thuraya USB SAT modem" on COM20 (or some other COM port #) in the list.

Go to Control Panel - Network Connections - New Connection Wizard - Connect to the Internet - Set up my connection manually - Connect using a dial-up modem - (select the USB SAT Modem and check its box) - (Enter Thuraya, or anything you like, for the ISP name) - (Enter *99# for the phone number) - (leave username & password blank) - Finish. Under Options, select "redial if line is dropped" - unless using a 3rd party dialler which implements auto redial on a ping fail in which case disable any automatic redial within Windows.


PC Configuration - Winfax with a bluetooth connection, SG-2520 phone

The following is based on WinXP and Winfax v10.02.

Configure as "PC Configuration - Bluetooth connection to phone" above and verify you have a "Bluetooth FAX Modem" modem in the list of modems.

Start Winfax. Tools - Program Setup - Modems and Communication Devices - Add (if the fax modem is not in the list already) - (add the fax modem and check its box) - (Class 2.0) - (under Properties check Use hardware flow control box).

Note that "Class 2" is not the same as "Class 2.0". Winfax can be notoriously hard to set up... I have done it as above using both bluetooth and USB cable connections.

Fax calls do require a good strong signal in order to deliver a non-corrupted fax, compared to internet connections which have built-in error correction and can make do with a weak signal. Therefore, an email2fax service (which merely requires any internet access) is often preferred to Winfax, but it is yet another thing to worry about because with any commercial email2fax service one has to periodically pre-pay the account which pays for the fax transmission.

Fax was not tested with the XT phone and probably won't work! Anyway, today (12/2015) fax is rarely used and anyone needing it should use a email2fax service. I still use Interfax for this.


Additional PC Configuration

On the computer, ensure any automatic updates are disabled! Windows (operating system and Microsoft application) updates are the obvious one, but there is also antivirus software, Adobe Acrobat updates, Java updates, Firefox browser updates, and other stuff. Any of these has the potential to quietly download several MB, and at $1/minute (9.6k dial-up) or $6/MB (GMPRS) this is highly undesirable especially when using GMPRS which one is naturally likely to just leave connected...

In any case, one should not automatically update any critical-application device because any update has the potential to cripple something already installed. The principal reason for automatic updates is to get timely patches for the countless virus vulnerabilities in Microsoft software, but this is relevant only if the device is actually exposed i.e. if accessing dodgy websites or using a virus magnet (Microsoft Outlook) for receiving email. If one can avoid using Micro$oft software for internet access, there is no real need for updating the computer at all, once it is all set up and working.

Also see firewall related notes below.



The above dial-up details are for the GMPRS mode, which is the recommended one for internet access. If you wish to access the internet via dial-up, use 1722 instead of *99# and everything else is the same. 1722 is Thuraya's in-house ISP but any other number can be used to dial-up e.g. your normal UK ISP e.g. 00448451234567 (don't forget the 0044 country code).

The SG-2520 has a bug in that a dial-up call cannot be terminated from the PC. You have to terminate it using the "end call" button on the phone, and occasionally by powering down the phone. If you fail to do this, the charging runs for much longer.... this obviously doesn't matter much if using GPRS because you are not paying for the online time.

The SG-2520 phone behaves strangely at times. Sometimes, especially after a fax has been sent, it will not connect to the internet without a power-down reboot. Sometimes, a fax locks it up totally and the battery must be removed and replaced to get it working again. Very occasionally, internet connections need a power-down to get them working, after some previous operations. Internet connections can be slow, and even dialling may fail, in the evenings when there appear to be many users on the system.

Whenever possible, orientate the phone so the antenna points towards the satellite, which (from the UK) lies to the South-East and is quite low above the horizon.


This page last edited 2nd December 2015

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