Government Allows Airlines to Provide In-Flight Wi-Fi Services

Telecom Commission had in 2018 approved in-flight connectivity, facilitating both voice and data.

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Government Allows Airlines to Provide In-Flight Wi-Fi Services

The Pilot-in-Command will permit the access of Internet services on board an aircraft

Highlights
  • Government permitted airlines to provide in-flight Wi-Fi service
  • Vistara CEO had said that it would be the first to provide the service
  • Telecom Commission approved in-flight connectivity in 2018

The central government on Monday permitted airlines operating in India to provide in-flight Wi-Fi services to passengers, according to official notification.

"The Pilot-in-Command may permit the access of Internet services by passengers on board an aircraft in flight, through Wi-Fi on board, when laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode," the notification stated.

While taking the delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 aircraft at Everett on last Friday, Vistara CEO Leslie Thng had told reporters that it would be the first plane in India to provide in-flight Wi-Fi services.

To recall, back in 2018, the Telecom Commission approved in-flight connectivity, facilitating both voice and data calls and data surfing in Indian airspace.

"Almost all recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on this have been accepted. We are expediting the process (to start) and within 3-4 months it should be ready. We will be operationalising this decision immediately," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan had told reporters in 2018.

She said there were only two exception to TRAI's recommendations. The sector regulator said that foreign satellites and foreign gateways should also be permitted, "but there had been an earlier committee of secretaries meeting that decided that it should be an Indian satellite or a Department of Space approved satellite and the gateway should be in India."

Sundararajan said: "We have to create a separate category of licensee, called In-Flight Connectivity Provider. This will also be applicable for ships. Re. 1 will be the token licence fee. It is applicable above 3,000 metres."

She had also said that the matter need not go to the Cabinet for approval.

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