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TRAI issues recommendations on Wi-Fi and mobile services on board for flyers in and over India

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(G.N.S) Dt. 19

New Delhi

Flyers in India, as well as those over-flying the country, can now have access to both internet and mobile services on board aircraft. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday issued its recommendations on in-flight connectivity (IFC), under which airlines will be allowed to offer both these services to flyers with certain conditions put in place for security reasons. While internet can be provided from the moment a plane takes off and personal electronic devices (PED) have to be put on flight mode, mobile services can be allowed when aircraft are over an altitude of 3,000 metres.

“By meeting some requirements, airlines can offer both these services. It is up to them which one to offer and whether to offer them,” said a TRAI official. Most airlines globally offer Wi-Fi on board as allowing mobile calls could be too much of a nuisance for fellow travellers.

“Both, Internet and mobile communication on aircraft (MCA) service should be permitted as IFC in the Indian airspace. The operation of MCA services should be permitted with minimum height restriction of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks,” TRAI says.

“Internet Services through Wi-Fi onboard should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to use only in flight/ airplane mode,” it adds. The regulator has recommended that a separate category of “IFC service provider” be created to permit IFC services in Indian airspace. “The IFC service provider should be required to get itself registered with the DoT and it need not necessarily be in Indian entity,” it says.

“The regulatory requirements should be same for both Indian registered and foreign registered airlines for offering IFC services in Indian airspace,” it adds. “The deployment of a gateway in India provides an effective mechanism to lawfully intercept and monitor the in-cabin internet traffic while the aircraft is in Indian airspace. Therefore, the onboard Internet traffic must be routed to a Satellite Gateway on Indian soil. Such an obligation should be imposed regardless of whether the satellite in question is an Indian Satellite System or not,” TRAI says.

The IFC service provider could be permitted to use either Indian Satellite System or foreign satellite capacity leased through DoS or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in the Indian airspace.

This was one place where people could not disturb you. Now that too is gone. :(Burzis Muglai

“To promote the adoption of IFC services in Indian airspace, the IFC service provider should be imposed a flat annual Licence Fee of token amount of Re 1. However, the same may be reviewed and amended at a later stage, if need be,” TRAI says.

The framework recommended for IFC services in Indian airspace is recommended to be made applicable to all types of aircraft such as commercial airlines, business jets and executive aircraft.

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