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Now, One Will Soon Be Able To Make Calls And Use The Internet On Indian Flights

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In-flight WiFi isn't a new concept, it has been available on numerous foreign airlines for years. But, these airlines were forced to turn-off connectivity services when in Indian airspace because our local laws do not permit usage of wireless services while flying. 

This is about to change and you will be able to make calls as well as access the internet during air travel and ship voyage within Indian territory thanks to the introduction of Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018. The rules to allow in-flight calling and internet surfing in the Indian airspace could come as early as January, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha has hinted. 

One Will Soon Be Able To Make Calls And Use The Internet On Indian Flights© Virgin Australia

The Telecom Ministry has asked the Law Ministry to provide its inputs on in-flight connectivity rules, thereafter the rules are expected to pass through at a rapid pace. This year, the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) had submitted recommendations on drafting the policy and the DoT (Department of Telecommunication) has promptly passed the proposal. 

The services will have to be provided by a valid telecom licence holder in India and usage of satellites will be permitted by the Department of Space. The services can be toggled on once the aircraft attains a minimum height of 3,000 metres to avoid radio interference with ground networks. 

One Will Soon Be Able To Make Calls And Use The Internet On Indian Flights© Reuters

In October, SpiceJet had already announced it'll be the first Indian airline to offer in-flight WiFi since its Boeing 737 Max8 aircraft are already equipped with connectivity systems. The airline has also secured a service provider and is simply waiting for the governing policies to go live. 

When the DoT cleared TRAI's recommendations, premium airline Vistara and flag-bearer Air India were among the first to welcome the policy. While the latter has been struggling with debt and operational losses, it wouldn't surprise us to see Vistara offer in-flight WiFi soon considering its target customer is a business traveller. 

One Will Soon Be Able To Make Calls And Use The Internet On Indian Flights© YouTube / The dome on a SpiceJet 737 Max8 that enables connectivity

Don't expect 4G LTE equivalent speeds though. In-flight connectivity is extremely tricky since these systems depend on ground-based transmitters, which means they only work overland. And, the ground-based systems have limited bandwidth and equipment onboard the aircraft have a long life-span of five to ten years. Hence, carrying out upgrades and providing speeds is outrageously expensive. 

Many airlines like Jet Airways, Vistara, and SpiceJet are currently offering in-flight entertainment or streaming via WiFi thanks to locally fitted networks inside the aircraft. A system locally stores the content, which is then streamed via WiFi to your device. This removes the need for individual displays for every seat while the passenger has more comfort. 

Source: Times of India

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