TRAI recommends internet access and phone calls in flights

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

By Rohit
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You might soon be able to make a call and post an Instagram story right from an ongoing flight. TRAI, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended that both Internet access and mobile phone calls should be permitted on board aircraft in Indian airspace. The recommendation came after analysing the comments received from consultations and open house discussions on the issue.

TRAI recommends internet access and phone calls in flights

 

"The operation of mobile communication on aircraft (MCA) services should be permitted with minimum height restriction of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said.

What this means is that air passengers will be able to make phone calls and access Internet services beyond 3,000 meters. The height restriction is placed to avoid accessing terrestrial mobile networks.

As per a report by IANS, TRAI has said to promote the adoption of in-flight connectivity and IFC service providers should be allowed to set up at a flat annual token licence fee of Re 1. It is said that the framework recommended for IFC services in Indian airspace will be made applicable to all types of aircrafts such as commercial airlines, business jets and executive aircrafts.

TRAI recommends internet access and phone calls in flights

As per TRAI's recommendation, the Internet services through Wi-Fi onboard should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to be used only in flight/airplane mode. TRAI said IFC service providers should be required to get themselves registered with DoT (Department of Telecommunications) and it need not necessarily be an Indian entity. The IFC service provider should be permitted to provide IFC services, after entering into an arrangement with Unified Licensee having appropriate authorization.

 

It is worth mentioning that TRAI has also made a point saying the regulatory requirements should be same for both Indian registered and foreign registered airlines for offering IFC services.

Moreover, TRAI also suggested setting up a gateway in India to provide an effective mechanism to lawfully intercept and monitor the in-cabin internet traffic while the aircraft is in Indian airspace. All traffic on board should be touted through the satellite gateway, irrespective of the ownership of the satellite.

Hemant Joshi, Partner, Deloitte India said, "In-flight connectivity will expand significantly by 2018. It will be a wonderful service for the traveller as it will help them to use their time productively and be in touch with their near and dear ones. But the downside could be the noise levels in flight could increase".

The IANS report also put some light on the technicalities of the in-flight connectivity. The IFC services are generally provided through use of mobile satellite service with a mobile earth station installed in the aircraft to establish backhaul link with the ground. The onboard access technology can also be Wi-Fi, e-mail, internal corporate networks or other.

If everything goes as recommended, the day will not be far when air passengers would be able to connect to their family and friends over phone calls and via internet services. We will keep a close eye on the future updates of TRAI's recommendation for in-flight calling and internet services. Stay tuned on Gizbot.com

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