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13 Dec 2017

You will soon have Wi-Fi, mobile internet in domestic flights

TRAI to soon release recommendations on in-flight connectivity

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has given its approval to in-flight connectivity (IFC) and will release its recommendations by December end or "next 15 days", said Chairman RS Sharma today.

In view of the "increasing interest and demand for broadband connectivity to passengers", TRAI had issued a consultation paper in September.

Stakeholders' comments were invited on what services should be provided.

In context

TRAI to soon release recommendations on in-flight connectivity

The two kinds of IFC

IFC can be of two kinds, depending on available technology: internet connectivity through Wi-Fi, and mobile communication services on board aircraft (MCA). Wi-Fi is the more commonly available technology, though demand for MCA is on a rise too.

What do passengers want?


What do passengers want?

Global consultant Roland Berger conducted a study, the findings of which reveal that more and more passengers want to be able to access internet in flights.

British satellite telecom company Inmarsat too conducted a survey in 2016 and found that 92% passengers want in-flight broadband.

The survey revealed a whopping 83% passengers choose airlines on the basis of internet availability.

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Regulations on in-flight internet in India

Currently, passengers have to switch their mobile data and Wi-Fi off before taking off and while flying in Indian airspace, where internet access in flights is banned for security reasons. IFC has been in discussion since two years, but hadn't got necessary clearances yet.


Stakeholders provided comments on various questions

The consultation paper had asked questions like whether IFC should be permitted in India, and if yes, what kind- internet or MCA.

It had also asked if altitude restrictions on IFC should be lifted considering "gate to gate connectivity" provided today: GSM-based MCA is operated at least 3,000m above ground to prevent interference with on-ground mobile networks.

TRAI will now release its recommendations.

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