New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has cleared the decks for in-flight calling and internet usage in Indian airspace, the regulator said on Friday.
“The framework recommended for In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) services in Indian airspace should be made applicable to all types of aircrafts such as commercial airlines, business jets, executive aircrafts, etc.," Trai said in its note, adding that this mobile calling service should be permitted with minimum height restriction of 3,000m in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks.
The regulator said that internet services through on-board Wi-Fi should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to be used only in flight or airplane mode and announcement regarding this should be made after boarding is completed and the aircraft is about to taxi.
“It would ensure that there is no encroachment on the scope of terrestrial internet service provided by telecom service providers as well as practically there won’t be any appreciable discontinuity in the provisioning of internet services to the fliers," Trai said.
The regulator recommended the creation of an IFC service provider for IFC services at annual licence fee of only Re1 initially, after entering into an arrangement with telecom licence holder having the appropriate authorization.
The regulator said that the IFC service provider should be permitted to use either INSAT (Indian Satellite System, or foreign satellite capacity leased through the department of space) or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in Indian airspace.
“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 Indian airspace. Therefore, the on-board internet traffic must be routed to a satellite gateway on Indian soil," Trai recommended.
It added that routing of traffic through a satellite gateway in India should be imposed regardless of whether the satellite in question is an Indian satellite system or not.
The civil aviation ministry has been pushing for this relaxation since 2016, but the consultations were stuck with other government departments.