In-Flight Connectivity Recommendations

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) through its letter dated August 10, 2017 had communicated that there is a proposal to introduce in-flight connectivity (IFC) for voice, data, and video services over the Indian airspace for domestic, international, and overflying flights in the Indian Air Space. DoT had also requested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to furnish its recommendations on licensing terms and conditions for provision of IFC for voice, data, and video services and associated issues such as entry fee, license fee, spectrum related issues including usage charges and method of allocation and other conditions. After analyzing the comments received from stakeholders during the consultation and the open house discussions, TRAI has finalized its recommendation on IFC. The highlights of the recommendations are:

  • Both, Internet and MCA service should be permitted as IFC in the Indian airspace
  • The operation of MCA services should be permitted with minimum height restriction of 3000 m in the Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks
  • Internet Services through Wi-Fi onboard should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to be used only in flight/airplane mode
  • A separate category of IFC Service Provider should be created to permit IFC services in the Indian airspace. The IFC service provider should be required to get itself registered with the DoT and it need not necessarily be an Indian entity
  • The deployment of a gateway in India provides an effective mechanism to lawfully intercept and monitor the in-cabin Internet traffic while the aircraft is in the Indian airspace. Therefore, the onboard Internet traffic must be routed to a Satellite Gateway on Indian soil. Such an obligation should be imposed regardless of whether the satellite in question is an Indian Satellite System or not
  • A spectrum neutral approach should be adopted subject to the condition that the frequency bands have been harmonized and coordinated for their use at the ITU. It would facilitate the IFC services in all the bands (L, Ku, and Ka) in which IFC services are currently being provided
  • The framework recommended for IFC services in the Indian airspace should be made applicable to all types of aircrafts such as commercial airlines, business jets, executive aircrafts etc
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