Wi-Fi Services on Flights in India Gets Clearance

Data surfing, internet access via WiFi as well as in-flight voice calls will soon become a reality in India as the Telecom Commission on Tuesday has approved in-flight connectivity, facilitating both voice and data calls and data surfing in Indian airspace.

The implementation and operationalization of these services on flights in India will take about
3-4 months. At first, the telecom department will start the process of framing licence terms for in-flight connectivity (IFC) providers and then invite applications. Thereafter, airlines also need time to put equipments in aircrafts to provide such services.

“We will now have to create a separate category of licensees called in-flight connectivity provider. These will provide internet as well as voice services within Indian territorial airspace... in both domestic and international flights,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters.

Notably, these services are permitted with minimum height restriction of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks.

However, the WiFi or calls in flights will not be free and the telecom department will leave the pricing of these services to the airlines. The pricing could be part of ticket or charged separately to passengers.

According to experts, the cost to the passenger may be on the higher side, initially

It is to be noted that In-flight connectivity is much more expensive than on-ground connectivity, which we use in our homes and offices. Most airlines charge based on use -- whether wifi is used on phone, tablet, or laptop.

The IFC service provider are permitted to use either Indian Satellite System or foreign satellite capacity leased through Department of Space or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in the Indian airspace.

Gogo, a popular US-based IFC service provider that gives service to 17 airlines, offers a 'monthly airlines plan', valid on domestic flights in the US, Canada and Mexico.

According to Honeywell Aerospace, the global market for connected aircraft is pegged at $7 billion, and also forecast a rapid wifi adoption by nearly 25,000 planes by 2025.

The above development was first reported in Live Mint.

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