Soon, you can make calls, browse while flying in India

Telecom Commission approves proposal by TRAI

May 01, 2018 02:09 pm | Updated May 02, 2018 12:58 am IST - New Delhi

Telecom Commission has approved a proposal for allowing mobile phone calls and internet services in domestic and international flights in India, with certain riders

Telecom Commission has approved a proposal for allowing mobile phone calls and internet services in domestic and international flights in India, with certain riders

Flyers on board an aircraft will be able to make calls and remain connected to the Internet while travelling through the Indian airspace in the next three to four months.

The Telecom Commission, which is the highest decision-making body in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), on Tuesday gave its nod to a proposal by regulator TRAI.

This will also be applicable to communication on ships.

Gateway in India

“The in-flight connectivity has been approved. It was decided to accept the TRAI’s views except that the satellites used for providing services should be the Department of Space-approved satellites and the gateway should be in India,” Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said.

The regulator had recommended that the onboard Internet traffic be routed to a satellite gateway on Indian soil as deployment of a gateway in India provides an effective mechanism to lawfully intercept and monitor the in-cabin Internet traffic.

Ms. Sundararajan, who also heads the Telecom Commission, said the department would now work towards creating the licence framework for a separate category of in-flight connectivity (IFC) service providers. In line with the TRAI recommendation, These service providers would be charged a licence fee of ₹1 per annum.

The government will not intervene with the pricing mechanisms used by the operators. Globally, the Internet services on board aircraft are available for a premium.

The regulator had suggested that mobile communication on aircraft (MCA) systems be operated once the plane reached an altitude of 3,000 metres to avoid causing harmful interference to ground-based mobile networks. However, the flyer will be able to access Internet through onboard Wi-Fi when electronic devices are permitted to be used only in flight/airplane mode.

The Commission also approved the regulator’s recommendations on setting up public Wi-Fi hotspots for proliferation of Broadband. Under this, TRAI had mooted setting up of Public Data Offices, which will be an upgraded version of the cyber cafe and the PCO model, to ensure last mile connectivity for Wi-Fi services.

As per the regulator’s estimates, usage of Wi-Fi networks will bring down the approximate cost per MB of data usage to less than 2 paise as opposed to the current 23 paise per MB on 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

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