The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is planning to issue regulations pertaining to in-flight connectivity (IFC) by the end of this month. This means that Indian fliers will be able to access internet while onboard an aircraft.
The TRAI Chairman R S Sharma stated that recommendations on in-flight connectivity could come out by year or next 15 days, an IANS report stated. On further details, he only said that IFC will be allowed in India and the awaited recommendations will decide the parameters for connectivity services provided on flights.
Once TRAI puts out the rules governing IFC, airline carriers operating in India can set up required infrastructure and deliver internet and other connectivity services to their passengers. Depending upon the available technology, IFC services are categorised in two kinds - internet services through onboard Wi-Fi; and Mobile Communication services on board Aircraft (MCA). Although Wi-Fi has become common on aircrafts, demand for MCA services has gone up in recent time too.
IFC has reportedly been in talks for the past two years, but has been awaiting departmental clearances. As of now, aircrafts have to switch IFC services onboard as they enter Indian airspace due to absence of certification.
The telecom regulator had issued a consultation paper back on September 29 earlier this year inviting comments and counter comments on the issue from stakeholders. The submissions have ended by November 3. The issuance was in line with growing demand for IFC services, which was fast becoming a deciding factor in business class flier selecting an airline.
The consultation paper had raised questions like whether which of the IFC services should be permitted in India - internet services, or MCA services, or both of them. TRAI had also invited suggestions on whether the altitude restrictions on IFC services should be revoked as air travel now offer "gate to gate connectivity". The GSM-based MCA services are operated with a minimum height of 3000 meters from ground level to check interference to mobile networks on the ground.
Moreover, TRAI also intends to submit its view on the New Telecom Policy to the Department of Telecommunications soon, the TRAI Chairman was quoted in the IANS report. The government plans to come out with the first draft by the year end and final policy by March 2018.
The TRAI has created four working groups to chalk out points for the New Telecom Policy. "
"We have created four working groups, who will give views on broadband policies, infrastructure and licensing framework," Sharma said.