Until now, air travellers in India were unable to get Internet connectivity while travelling. But now, this limitation shall be removed as in-flight connectivity is expected to be available in India within a year according to the statement of Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha.
Soon a meeting of DoT and civil aviation officials will be held to discuss the operational details about the matter. Telecom firms, airlines and in-flight connectivity providers are expected to attend the meeting to be held after about 10 days. With in-flight connectivity availability in India, air travellers will be able to make calls and use internet services during flights while travelling across the Indian sub-continent.
The Telecom Commission, which happens to be the highest policy making body of Department of Telecom — had already cleared a proposal on May 1 for allowing in-flight connectivity, which is already available in most of the developed markets. Aruna Sundararajan, India’s Telecom Secretary and Chairman of the Telecom Commission, said that the operational aspects still needed to be discussed in detail and the upcoming meeting will deliberate on the same. “The discussions on the operational model will entail questions like who will be investing in infrastructure, who will be providing the services. There is no standard model…we will have to see what is suitable in the Indian context,” Sundararajan said.
Presently, there are many airlines globally which are already offering wi-fi for passengers, but they currently have to switch off the facility when they enter the Indian airspace. Besides, it is also expected that the availability of wi-fi will provide local airlines an additional source of revenues amid stiff competition in the fast-growing Indian aviation market. AirAsia, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic are among 30 airlines that already allow using a mobile phone on aircraft. A separate category of licensees – in-flight service providers – will be created for offering such services, and licence fee for such niche providers will be kept at Re 1. Nevertheless, after this facility will be provided on Indian airspace, it will surely be a blessing in disguise for the class of passengers wanting to stay connected with the internet even while air travel.