Friday, May 11, 2018

In-flight connectivity guidelines to be taken up next week

New Delhi: The telecom department has sought a meeting with the civil aviation ministry early next week to put toge­t­h­er framework for the lice­n­ce conditions and guidelines to operationalise ‘in-flight’ data and voice connectivity within four months. “We plan to hold a meeting on May 14 or May 15 on this,” telecom secretary Aru­na Sundararajan said here.

The meeting will be the first after DoT allowed the in-flight connectivity services. Telecom firms may or may not be part of the meeti­ng, she said. Both departments will wo­rk out mo­dalities and lice­nces would be awarded to in-flight service providers at a fee of Re 1 initially. DoT will create a separate category of such li­cen­ces. Service pro­v­i­ders need to pa­rtner telecom ope­rators and register with DoT.

The telecom commissi­on, the highest policy making body of DoT, had earlier this month decided to allow in-flight connectivity, which is available in most developed markets. The decision will pave the way for travellers to use internet and vo­ice services on mobile ph­o­nes during flights in the Indian airspace.

Sundararajan had earlier expressed hope that the facility will to be rolled out in 3-4 months, once the mo­d­a­l­ities of the niche licences and back-end agreements are worked out.

While major airlines, including Air India and Vista­ra, have welcomed the government decision, and civil aviation minister Suresh Pr­a­bhu said he would ensure “earliest implementation” of the plan. While mobile ph­one use will still be restricted during takeoff and landing, these devices would be allowed at cruising altitudes.