Telecom Department sanctions to permit the use of internet and call connectivity while On-Board in Flights!

In these recent times when the connectivity at all places is considered as a foremost helping hand for us to bring closer to our far away companions, there is a place which was still left deserted from this facility. We are talking about the Airplanes where voice calls were still not allowed on-board. As a result it turned out to be a stupendous confusion, as some airlines offer to allow the mobile connectivity and some restrict and hinder the use of mobile phones once the plane has taken off. But it is very important as people are entitled to precise and reliable information about whether the voice calls are permitted when they purchase an air ticket and board a flight?

It is veracious to say that many Domestic and International flights sometimes, though Proscribed,  do allow the connectivity through Apple Face Time, Skype, Google Hangouts etc. and some even authorise the cellular connectivity globally while in-flight travel. But The Department of Telecommunication in this context was seeking feedback from public and also the experts, that whether they should adopt the rule to restrict the voice communication on passengers’ mobile wireless devices on scheduled flights within the country?

So the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) earlier this year recommended Recommendation_IFC_19012018 that in-flight connectivity including Internet and Mobile cellular connection should be allowed over Indian Airspace. The Authority (TRAI) is of the view that as long as the provision of service is technically feasible and the required security concerns can be addressed, there should be no regulatory barrier in provisioning any of these services. As globally many air flights are offering these services, but while entering the Indian airspace they currently have to cut-out this facility.

TRAI has suggested that to maintain the jurisdiction within the terrestrial networks, the height restriction of 3,000 meters for mobile connection is required, which is a height that is attained by a flight in about 5 minutes after the take-off. The proposal initially in 2017 was being considered by The Ministry of Civil Aviation, which afterwards was sent to Department of Telecommunication (DoT)which later on sought the views and clarifications from TRAI.

In the views of TRAI, Airlines internationally permit the use of mobile phone connectivity which includes Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Fly Emirates, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Virgin Atlantic etc. Also many countries with-in their jurisdiction, does authorise the use mobile connection on the Aircraft as stated by TRAI.

Keeping this view, the Telecom Commission formed in this regard has approved the proposal of Department of telecommunication for Internet and Mobile Connection on aircraft. The DoT has been recommended to make the necessary amendments in the relevant laws to create a special category for the in-Flight connectivity operators. After this, the department will invite the applications from all those  telecom operators who are interested in the providing the services in this regard. The proposal of DoT will not only enable the Indian Airlines but also its foreign counterparts to offer their connectivity in the Indian Airspace. Furthermore, as already stated by TRAI, the in-Flight connectivity will be facilitated once the aircraft is at the height of 3,000 meters which briefly takes 4-5 minutes after the takeoff.

In the view to adjudge this, many telecom operators have announced to join the global collaboration with foreign operators to work towards this technology so that they can offer a higher speed connectivity to its mobile users while they are on-board which will directly ensure the discontinuity from Internet services to the flyers.

Therefore through this, the Indian Airlines are helping all these operators to compete with the foreign carriers and other Global connectivity peers. Along with it, this policy will also be helping the travellers immensely throughout their journey, especially when they are travelling domestically.

-Arvind Singh Dhaliwal

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