TRAI Recommends Allowing Internet, Mobile Services During Air Travel

India.com News Desk
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New Delhi, Jan 19: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday released recommendations on In-Flight Connectivity’ (IFC) allowing internet and mobile services for the passengers during air travel. “The authority recommends that both, Internet and Mobile Communication on Aircraft (MCA) service should be permitted as In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) in the Indian airspace,” TRAI in its recommendations on IFC, said.

“Internet Services through Wi-Fi onboard should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to use only in flight/ airplane mode,” the recommendations added further.

On August 10, the Department of Telecom had sought views of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on introducing voice, data and video services over Indian airspace for domestic, international and overflying flights.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE IN-FLIGHT CONNECTIVITY RECOMMENDATIONS:

1) The operation of MCA services should be permitted with minimum height restriction of 3000 meters in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks.

2) A separate category of “IFC Service Provider” should be created to permit IFC services in Indian airspace. The IFC service provider should be required to get itself registered with the DoT and it need not necessarily be in Indian entity.

3) The IFC service provider be permitted to provide IFC services, after entering into an arrangement with Unified Licensee having appropriate authorization.

4) If IFC service provider partners with Unified Licensee having Internet Service (Category ‘A’) authorization for the provision of Internet services onboard as part of IFC, then (i) If the licensee also has the Commercial VSAT CUG service authorization, it can provide the satellite links also. Alternatively, (ii) Unified Licensee with National Long Distance (NLD)service authorization can provide the satellite links.

5) The regulatory requirements should be same for both Indian registered and foreign registered airlines for offering IFC services in Indian airspace.

6) 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 onboard Internet traffic must be routed to a Satellite Gateway on Indian soil. Such an obligation should be imposed regardless of whether the satellite in question is an Indian Satellite System or not.

7) The IFC service provider should be permitted to use either INSAT systems (Indian Satellite System or foreign satellite capacity leased through DoS) or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in the Indian airspace.

8) To promote the adoption of IFC services in Indian airspace, the IFC service provider should be imposed a flat annual Licence Fee of token amount of Rs. 1. However, the same may be reviewed and amended at a later stage, if need be.

9) Spectrum neutral approach should be adopted subject to the condition that the frequency bands have been harmonized and coordinated for their use at the ITU. It would facilitate the IFC services in all the bands (L, Ku andKa] in which IFC services are currently being provided.

10) The framework recommended for IFC services in Indian airspace should be made applicable to all types of aircrafts such as commercial airlines, business jets, executive aircrafts etc.