Passengers in India may soon be able to use their mobile phones and internet on board flights within the Indian airspace. Allowing in-flight connectivity was one of the recommendations the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India made on Friday on the subject.
Fliers are currently not allowed to use mobile phones and internet within the Indian airspace because of security concerns.
TRAI recommended allowing mobile communications on board aircraft only above the altitude of 3,000 metres “for compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks”. It also said that regulations laid down for in-fight connectivity should apply to all types of aircraft and be the same for both Indian and foreign registered airlines.
The regulator said airlines should provide internet services through on board Wi-Fi facilities – commonplace in international flights – and allow its use only when electronic devices are on flight or airplane mode.
“To promote the adoption of in-flight connectivity services in the Indian airspace, the service provider should be imposed a flat annual licence fee of token amount of Rs 1,” TRAI said. “However, the same may be reviewed and amended at a later stage, if need be.”
TRAI had released a consultation paper on in-flight connectivity in September 2017. It made the recommendations based on responses from stakeholders and discussions it held on the subject.
On Friday, it recommended introducing a new category of “In-Flight Connectivity Service Provider” to allow the service over the Indian airspace. It suggested having the service provider to be registered with the Department of Telecommunications.
In August 2016, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey had hinted at the possibility of fliers getting in-flight connectivity within India soon. He had explained that the main hold-up then was the “ability to track voice and data”, and that security agencies did not have the technology to monitor data transmission over the Indian airspace.