In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) in India | Use Mobile Phones In-Flight:
You got it right! Now we will be able to use data and calling services of our mobile phones in the flights in Indian airspace. The Telecom Commission accepted the proposal for the wider in-flight data connectivity proposed by the regulatory authority.
The top major airlines of India, including Vistara, honored the Telecom Commission’s decision. Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu stated that he would ensure earliest implementation of the proposed scheme.
The Telecom department has lifted the ban on use of mobile services at cruising altitudes. The phone use will still be restricted at the time of taking-off and landing. Many international airlines provide internet in-flight but they always needed to restrict it when they enter Indian airspace.
— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) May 1, 2018
The facilities would be rolled out in 3-4 months, once the licenses and other formal paperwork is done.
Pricing for IFC Services:
The pricing scheme for the in-flight connectivity service is liberal and the Airlines are free to choose the providers with whom they tie up (such as Airtel, Vodafone). TRAI will create a separate category of Licenses for providing such services. Initially the price for 1 year is pegged at just Re.1. The license would also provide for connectivity for ships in Indian territorial waters.
Timeline for IFC service:
TRAI in January 2018 had suggested the government to allow in-flight data and cellular services in Indian Airspace using Satellite and Terrestrial Network. It further provided that there must be a safety mechanism for lawful interception and monitoring of the wifi networks to ensure safety.
These recommendations came after Telecom Department, on August 10, 2017, sought its views over proposal to introduce voice, data and video services for Domestic and International flights in the Indian airspace.
Conditions for IFC usage:
It has also suggested that the Internet services through wi-fi in-flight be made available only when electronic devices are permitted to be used. During the take-off and before landing, the services won’t be available (when phones have to be switched off or in airplane mode). The announcement regarding this should be made after boarding is completed and the aircraft is about to take off.
The Telecom Commission meeting which was held on 1st May 2018, also reviewed and approved a number of significant proposals such as Internet Telephony, Creation of Sector Ombudsman, Ease of doing business and Proliferation of broadband through public wi-fi.
Bharti Airtel in February had announced that it has joined a new global collaboration named ‘Seamless Alliance’ to bring high-speed and uninterrupted in-flight data connectivity to mobile customers. Other participants of the global collaboration include the likes of Airbus, Delta, OneWeb and Sprint. They will work towards using satellite technology to offer high-speed data connectivity to mobile users even when they are up in the air.