The Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body in Department of Telecommunication (DoT) on Tuesday approved TRAI's (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) proposal to allow in-flight connectivity that allows internet and calling facilities while travelling in Indian airspace.
It would also be extended to ship travel.
Conditions for the approval include that the satellites used for the connectivity should be approved by the Department of Space and its gateway has to be on Indian soils. This will help in a lawful interception and easy monitoring of the in-cabin internet traffic.
The facility will be available in three to four months as the telecom department will be working on creating a license framework to form a separate category of in-flight connectivity (IFC) service providers. The license fee of these IFC service providers would be Rs 1 per annum.
The pricing system of the operators will not be intervened by the government.
The regulator has suggested the IFC system to function only after reaching an altitude of 3,000 metres. This is to avoid its harmful interference with ground-based network services. The travellers onboard will also be only able to use Wi-Fi facilities only after their electronic devices are put on airplane mode.
The foreign airlines may be the first to offer internet connectivity on board as many already do so in the airspace of some countries. Domestic airlines, however, may delay the facility due to the cost involved in setting up.