TRAI recommends Internet, MCA services in-flight

Andrew Cummings
January 20, 2018

What this means is that air passengers will be able to make phone calls and access Internet services beyond 3,000 meters.

Clearing the decks for the use of in-flight internet services and mobile calls, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday cleared a proposal from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to introduce In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) for voice, data and video services for domestic, worldwide and overflying flight over Indian airspace.

At present, many global airlines offer Wi-Fi on board but have steered clear of mobile services as the provision could end up being a nuisance for fellow passengers.

Also brings India in line with the more developed markets where it has been in existence for a while now. The TRAI has fixed the height restriction based on the networks and communication frequencies.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its recommendations for In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) on January 18, 2018. It also recommended that internet services through onboard Wi-Fi should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to use only in-flight or airplane modes. It will be a wonderful service for the traveller as it will help them to use their time productively and be in touch with their near and dear ones. "But the downside could be the noise levels in flight could increase".

The regulator has recommended the creation of an inflight service provider at an annual licence fee of Re 1 initially, after entering into an arrangement with a telecom licence holder having appropriate authorisation. It added that the regulatory requirements would be the same for Indian and foreign entities in the picture - airlines as well as service providers.

Now foreign carriers offer Internet on their planes but they have to switch the same off while overflying Indian airspace if their service-provider does not have an Indian server. The decision paves the way for airlines to offer these services once they meet certain security norms.

Satellite operators should be permitted to use of bandwidth assigned to satellite operators for the use of IFC services also.

TRAI said IFC services are generally provided through use of mobile satellite service with a mobile earth station installed in the aircraft to establish backhaul link with the ground. In 2016, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey had also announced that in-flight Wi-Fi services would be extended to passengers.

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