Smartphones have become an integral part of our day-to-day lives, and even a minute away from them is enough to send anyone into a tizzy!
This is especially true when we board a flight, and a member of the cabin crew announces that we need to either switch off the phone or put it on flight mode for flight safety and security reasons.
However, this might soon be a thing of the past.
On Friday, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a list of recommendations, and if these are put to effect by airlines soon, chances are that you will be able to use both the internet and your phone during the period of the flight.
Under these recommendations, TRAI directs airlines to provide in-flight connectivity (IFC) to not just the domestic passengers but also those flying over the country.
However, to ensure the fight safety and security, these provisions are laced with certain conditions.
The onboard Wi-Fi facility can be only availed if the electronic device is in the flight/airplane mode. Additionally, you will be able to use your phone once the aircraft crosses an altitude of 3,000 metres.
“Both internet and mobile communication on aircraft (MCA) service should be permitted as IFC in the Indian airspace. The operation of MCA services should be permitted with a minimum height restriction of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks,” TRAI said.
For this, the regulatory body has recommended for the creation of a separate category of ‘IFC service provider’ that will permit these services into the Indian aviation space. The service provider, which need not necessarily limit itself to only Indian agencies, will have to get itself registered with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to be operational.
TRAI has made it particular that the regulatory requirements for offering IFC services in Indian airspace should not vary between Indian and non-Indian airlines. It also adds that the onboard internet traffic must be routed through a satellite gateway in India, regardless of whether the satellite in question is an Indian satellite system or not.
“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. The IFC service provider could be permitted to either use the Indian Satellite System or a foreign satellite capacity leased through the Department of Space (DoS) or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in the Indian airspace,” it added.
According to a TRAI official, airlines can choose between the services or even offer both, if they stick to the regulations framed by the body.
At present, many international airlines offer Wi-Fi on board but have steered clear of mobile services as the provision could end up being a nuisance for fellow passengers.
You can read the complete list of recommendations by TRAI, here.