TRAI gives go-ahead for inflight connectivity over India

A passenger using Rockwell Collins' PAVES Wireless system.
A passenger using Rockwell Collins’ inflight connectivity

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that internet services like Wi-FI and inflight connectivity (IFC) should be permitted on domestic and international flights in the country.

Reuters says the recommendations, which include “providing a mechanism for the lawful interception and monitoring of Wi-Fi in aircraft cabins to ensure safety”, were provided to the Department of Telecommunications which will draft the final policy.

India’s Department of Transport (DoT) has also requested TRAI release recommendations on licensing terms and conditions for provision of IFC for voice, data and video services and associated issues such as entry fee, license fee, spectrum related issues including usage charges and method of allocation and other conditions.

Reports say the on-board internet traffic must be routed to a satellite gateway on Indian soil, regardless of whether the satellite in question is an Indian satellite system or not.

Service providers are free to select either an Indian or other satellite system.

Once finalised it will, for the first time, allow flyers in India to surf the internet on an aircraft.

It is thought that India’s concerns over a cyber-attack have delayed the policy, which has been in the making for several months, according to local news sources.

“Get Connected” reported in November that TRAI had held an open discussion of a consultation paper on inflight connectivity on board Indian airline carriers.

According to a report on Digit.in, the public meeting was held to discuss policy, security and licensing issues related to providing internet and mobile communication services.

The report says currently no Indian airline carrier provides internet or mobile communication services on domestic flights within India.

TRAI Chairman, RS Sharma said: “There are no technology issues as such. The technology is there. There is inflight connectivity in many countries around the world.

“In some sense the technology issue is already sorted out. There are other issues which relate to the licensing regimen of our country, also the framework relating to policy.

“Security has become an extremely important consideration. So that’s another issue we want to talk about.”

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