Saturday, September 30, 2017

On-board internet: TRAI examining how to roll out Wi-Fi in Indian skies

New Delhi: Taking Indian flyers a step closer to the government's almost two-year-old promise of allowing on-board Internet, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday issued a consultation paper on in flight connectivity (IFC) to frame rules for the same. The regulator is examining whether on board Internet should be allowed to flyers from the moment they board aircraft to when they alight or when the aircraft has reached an altitude of 3 km. And finally, whether Indian flyers should have access to both internet services and mobile communication services.
Since the telecom regulator has sought public comments latest by November 3, sources say Wi-Fi in air could be rolled out by the year-end after getting security clearances as the aviation ministry is already on board and has been waiting for this to happen for a long time now.
"Given the rapidly expanding demand for IFC, there is a proposal to introduce (it) for voice, data and video services over Indian airspace for domestic, international and overflying flight in Indian airspace. Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through its reference dated August 10, 2017, has requested 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, licence fee, spectrum related issues including usage charges and method of allocation," the TRAI paper says.
The aviation ministry had last August promised that Internet in Indian skies would be allowed "in days" but security considerations have held up the same till now. "Security agencies want the server providing inflight connectivity in India to be an Indian one so that they can intercept the feed if required. The issue has been hanging due to this," said an aviation ministry source.
29/09/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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