If the Telecom Ministry has its way, you could soon be using your mobile phone, checking mails or even making voice calls using in-flight connectivity!
In 2014, Director General of Civil Aviation, India (DGCA) allowed the use of cellphones, tablets and laptops on flights as long as they were in “flight mode”. This move, on the part of the DGCA, brought India on par with many other countries worldwide that allowed on-flight portable device usage.
Now, it may be possible to use data services as well as make phone calls while flying. A new proposal by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has suggested that in-flight connectivity, i.e. data usage, voice calls and video services by devices be allowed.
The Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body at DoT, is to decide on the matter in their upcoming meeting on May 1.
Picture for representation. Source: PxHere
The airlines would have the freedom to fix the prices for offering these services and the requisite permissions from the Home Ministry have already been obtained. Initially, only data services will be provided, but this will soon be followed by voice services, according to an anonymous source who spoke to the Hindustan Times.
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The Telecom Regularity Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended that both internet and mobile communication on board aircraft (MCA) services be permitted as in-flight connectivity (IFC) in the Indian airspace, in January.
“The operation of MCA services should be permitted with a minimum height restriction of 3000 metres in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks,” a TRAI representative told IndiaToday.
TRAI has already given its suggestions as to licensing terms and conditions that are to be followed by the service providers and the charges to be applied to them. At the moment, telecom service providers pay between 3-6% of their adjusted gross revenue as part of spectrum charges and licensing fee to DoT. While the cost of providing data and voice-call services on board will be fixed later, TRAI has recommended a token charge of Re 1 as licensing fee to the Ministry. Whether INSAT or any foreign satellite will be used, will also be decided along with other policy decisions in the DoT meeting.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)