The wait for air passengers to avail in-flight connectivity within the country’s airspace is about to get over as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that it is in the final stages of rolling out the norms for inflight connectivity license for the airlines operating in the country.
According to a report by the Economic Times Tech, once the inflight connectivity license norms are rolled out, the DoT will give service options to the airlines and telecom operators in the country within two months. This means that if everything goes well, the Telecom Commission would allow in-flight connectivity as soon as October this year.
DoT officials said that the body has mostly followed the recommendations made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in drafting the guidelines and once the norms are approved by the department, it would approximately take two weeks to get approval by the law ministry. “Once the licenses are rolled out, then let the carriers and the telecom companies battle it out on who should take which service,” the DoT official told the publication.
TRAI in its recommendations made in January this year had suggested that both Indian and international airlines be allowed to offer voice and mobile data services within the Indian airspace above the height of 3,000 meters. Additionally, it suggested to provide in-flight data connectivity licenses at Re 1 per annum, a price which could be changed later. Besides this, the regulatory body had suggested that the on-board Wi-Fi should be made available to the users only when electronic devices were permitted to be used in the airplane mode.
The report suggests that the Telecom Commission has approved all of the TRAI’s recommendations except for allowing foreign satellites to provide connectivity in the airplanes.
Notably, even with all the guidelines and licenses in place, it would be difficult for the airliners to provide the facility in their airplanes owing to the nature of cost and time involved in upgrading the existing systems.
Also, while the government bodies have not made any clarifications regarding the pricing, however, it is estimated that the price for voice and mobile data service onboard will be much higher than that available on ground as the airlines will have to make the initial investments for upgrading their aircrafts. This means that even if the licenses are rolled out by October, passengers will have to wait for some time before they start using the service during their flights. – India Today