In-flight connectivity to be operational before August

The government has given a go ahead for In-flight connectivity and it is expected to be operational before August.

The Telecom Commission has approved almost all the TRAI’s recommendations on in-flight connectivity in its meeting on 1st May 2018. With this, the airlines and the telecom service providers can offer voice and data services in Indian airspace once an aircraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 metres. The service is expected to be operationalize within 3 to 4 months.

In line with earlier decision of Committee of Secretaries, in-flight voice and data services shall be provided through Indian satellites or foreign satellites as approved by Department of Space for communication purposes with gateways in India.

A separate category of licensee called in-flight connectivity provider shall be created with a token license fee of Re. 1. Such facility of voice and data connectivity shall also be extended to ships and other moving vehicles (earth stations in motion).

TRAI has recommended that both, Internet and Mobile Communication on Aircraft (MCA) service should be permitted as In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) in the Indian airspace.

For MCA services, TRAI has provided flexibility to IFC service providers in terms of use of technology and frequencies inside the aircraft cabin; consistent with international standards, provided no harmful interference is caused. The operation of MCA services should be permitted with minimum height restriction of 3,000 meters in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks.

Internet Services through Wi-Fi onboard should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to be used only in flight/airplane mode. Such announcement is made after boarding is completed and the aircraft is about to taxi. It would ensure that there is no encroachment on the scope of terrestrial internet service provided by TSPs as well as practically there won’t be any appreciable discontinuity in the provisioning of Internet services to the fliers.

The authority recommends that a separate category of “IFC Service Provider” should be created to permit IFC services in Indian airspace for airlines registered in India after entering into an arrangement with unified licensee having appropriate authorization.

When MCA service is provided in partnership with foreign mobile service provider – Provision of MCA services by an IFC service provider shall be permitted in partnership with a foreign mobile service provider. This would, however, be permitted only when the same IFC service provider is providing the onboard Internet services in partnership with an Indian Unified Licensee with appropriate authorisation. Use of foreign satellites and gateway would be permitted for the establishment of satellite backhaul links only for the provisioning of MCA services.


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