Vistara, a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines is likely to be the first domestic airline to offer in-flight wi-fi services in India. Tata group's NELCO and Panasonic Avionics Corporation today announced a partnership for offering in-flight broadband service in India, starting with Vistara airlines. "NELCO is the first Indian company to provide this service in the country, marking the beginning of a new era of wi-fi on aircraft in Indian skies," it said in a press release.

"We are delighted that NELCO is spearheading in providing the long awaited Aero in-flight connectivity services in the country. Vistara is the first airline to sign up for this service," NELCO MD and CEO P J Nath said while launching the service

The launch of this service will enable passengers to access broadband service during their flight in Indian airspace.

How will in-flight internet work and what are the challenges?

In-flight Wi-Fi services rely on geostationary satellites which beam signals directly to antennas installed on the airline. This is more effective when the airline is passing over a water body compared with ATG (air-to-ground)-based networks which use satellites to beam the signal first to a transmitter on the ground and then to the antennas on the airline. The direct transmission of internet through satellites will be carried over the Ku and Ka bands. Airlines and service providers will have to put a server on the flight along with the equipment to convert satellite signals into data packets. They will also have to add the equipment to re-orient the antenna to face the satellite so the reception quality is not affected. Also, there will be interruptions when the airline moves from the range of one satellite to another.

In December 2018, the telecom department notified the Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018 allowing airlines to enter into commercial deals with telecom players to offer in-flight telecom services. The rules are also applicable to ships in Indian territorial waters.

-With Agency inputs

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