Now Flyers can make calls and use the internet on the flight
The opportunity for which Indian flyers have been waiting for long is almost here now. After a few more months, the Indian air passengers will get the facility to make calls and browse the internet while they are flying. While flying the Indian airspace now passengers can make calls to their family & friends and even use the internet. This proposal was cleared by the Telecom Commission for allowing the facility of broader in-connectivity which is already available in most of the developed countries. The telecom department announced that both the calls and the internet will be allowed at the height of approximately 30000 feet in the Indian airspaces. Even the internet access through the on-board connectivity will only be allowed after the completion of the boarding and starting the usage of the devices by the passengers at airplane mode at minimum altitude or around 3000 meters.
This decision of the Telecom Commission was welcomed by major airlines such as Air India and Vistara. The earlier implementation of this decision has been ensured by Civil Aviation Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu. While the Department of Telecommunication has said in a statement that they are at the final stages of taking out the inflight connectivity license norms for the operating airlines in India.
As per the reports whenever the norms for the license of inflight connectivity will be rolled out, then the department of telecommunication will give the service options within the two months both to the airlines as well as to the telecom operators. This means if everything goes well then the telecommunication department would likely allow inflight connectivity by October or maximum by November.
The officials of DoT said that the recommendations given by the Telecom Regulatory Authority In India (TRAI) have been followed by the department in drafting the guidelines. They also said that they would just need the time of two weeks for the approval of the law ministry after the approval of the norms by the department.
The recommendations made by the Trai this year in January had suggested that this facility of making voice calls & browsing the internet will be allowed both on domestic and international flights with the Indian airspace. It has also been suggested to provide the inflight connectivity license at the rate of Re 1 per annum. This is the price that has the possibility of being changed later. Though the pricing has yet to be decided and it will be the mutual decision of Airlines and the service provider.
Another suggestion given the regulatory body was related to the availability of the on-board wi-fi. The body said that the on-board wi-fi will only be available to the users if they are permitted to use their electronic devices in airplane mode.
The reports further said that all the suggestion has been approved by TRAI which has been given by the Telecom commission except the one which says that permissions should be given to the foreign satellites for providing the connectivity in the airplanes.
On the other hand, the restriction of using mobile phones at the time of landing and take will remain the same. The facility of wi-fi usage has been allowed by many airlines across the globe to their passengers but they need to switch off this facility immediately after entering the Indian airspace. Among the 30 airlines that have already allowed the usage of mobile phones in their airspaces include British Airways, Air New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic, AirAsia, Qatar Airways, Emirates Air France, Malaysia Airlines, and Egypt Air.
At present, under the regulations of Indian civil aviation, all mobile phones are needed to be turned off for avoiding any interference with the communication systems of the aircraft. But the use of other electronic devices such as tablets is allowed but only after reaching the cruising height as they don’t interfere with the radio signals of the flights.
The Indian carriers are in favor of the decision of allowing access to the internet on airspaces as it will result in enhancement of revenues along with bringing them at par with international flights. However, the task is not going to be easy for the Indian Carriers as it would need an investment of around $1million. The planes will also have to be grounded for a minimum of 10days for retrofitting it with the technology. But if we look at the current circumstances, then this revamping doesn’t look very welcoming.
So, if by Octobers the licenses are out for the usage of mobile phones and browsing of the internet, but the passengers will still have to wait before they start using the phones in Indian airspace.