Indian fliers will finally be able to use internet and make phone calls on their flights. The telecom department will allow calls and internet at 30,000 ft from October this year. An official at the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said, "We are in the final stages of inflight connectivity licence norms and the service option will be given to carriers and telecom companies within two months," as mentioned in The Economic Times.
DoT officials said that they have followed the telecom regulator's recommendations to draft the guidelines. Once the department clears the plan, the law ministry's approval will take another two weeks to sanction. The official said that there have been meetings with telecom operators and airlines with some parties showing interest to offer these services.
The official also said that once the licences are rolled out, the carriers and telecom companies can fight it out to pick the service they want to push out.
Indian carriers are in favour of providing internet services as it would result in add-on revenues and bring them at par with international flights. There is still no clarity on the pricing. However, it is anticipated that the cost will far surpass that of normal rates for mobile services as initial investments will be made by the airlines.
However, it is not going to be a simple task for Indian carriers. Each aircraft would require an investment of about $1 million, an executive said. The plane will also have to be grounded for at least 10 days to retrofit the aircraft with the technology. In current circumstances, this revamping may not come across as very welcoming.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had earlier said that Indian and international flights be allowed voice and data services within India's airspace above an altitude of 9,850 ft. It suggested that in-flight service connectivity licences should be provided at Re 1 annually. Except for international flights, the Telecom Commission approved TRAI's recommendations.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)