A model of an aircraft stands on display at the company’s booth during the Aero India air show at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Telecom Regulator Recommends Allowing Mobile Services, Wi-Fi On Flights

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today recommended allowing mobile telephony and internet services for passengers during air travel in the country through both satellite and terrestrial network.

The Department of Telecom had sought views from TRAI on Aug, 10, 2017, over proposal to introduce voice, data and video services over Indian airspace for domestic, international and overflying flights in Indian air space.

In its recommendation, TRAI said that for mobile services, there should be flexibility to IFC service providers in terms of use of technology and frequencies inside the aircraft cabin that should be 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
TRAI Recommendation

The regulator said that Internet services through onboard Wi-Fi should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to be used only in-flight or airplane mode. An announcement regarding this should be made after boarding is completed and the aircraft is about to taxi, it added.

"It would ensure that there is no encroachment on the scope of terrestrial Internet service provided by telecom service providers as well as practically there won't be any appreciable discontinuity in the provisioning of Internet services to the fliers," TRAI said.

The regulator recommended creation of an IFC Service Provider for IFC services at annual licence fee of Re 1 only initially, after entering into an arrangement with telecom licence holder having appropriate authorisation.

The regulator also said that the IFC service provider should be permitted to use either INSAT systems (Indian Satellite System or foreign satellite capacity leased through Department of Space) or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in the Indian airspace.