The Telecom Commission, the highest decision making body for the sector in India, has approved in-flight connectivity facilitating both voice and data calls in Indian airspace, according to Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, reported IANS.
In-flight connectivity will be available once an aircraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 meters -- the rule will maintain compatibility with terrestrial networks. A flight typically hits an altitude of 3,000 metres some five minutes after take-off, reported The Indian Express.
"Almost all recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on this have been accepted. We are expediting the process (to start) and within three months it should be ready," Sundararajan told reporters after a meeting on Tuesday.
“The DoT will now make the necessary amendments to the relevant laws to create a separate category of licences for in-flight connectivity operators, which could be telecom service providers. After making the amendments, the delay will invite applications from those interested in providing these services,” a senior official at the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) told the newspaper.
Furthermore, the Commission also approved the creation of an ombudsman to deal with telecom grievances, Sundararajan told reporters. The ombudsman will be set up under watchdog Trai and this will necessitate an amendment to the Trai Act, reported the PTI.
"The setting up of the ombudsman for the telecom sector is a great milestone.However, one will have to see how the implementation will take place given there are 100 crores plus users," said Hemant Joshi, Partner - Leader, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Deloitte India, adding, "the approval for Ease of Doing Business too reflect the DoT’s strong resolve to revolutionize and streamline the telecommunication services in India. The PCO Wi-Fi very idea to provide last mile connectivity and bring financial and geographical inclusion offers a big opportunity to telcos. However, data pricing through Wi-Fi is likely to reduce tariffs but the good news is that the Wi-Fi will be chargeable which can be a very good opportunity to increase revenues."
"Further, in-flight connectivity is a commendable move but what happens to noise levels in the plane and its impact on travellers remain to be seen and resolved. The Telecom Commission is apparently silent on how the falling profits and huge debt of Telcos, at Rs 7,70,000 crore, will be addressed... Over all, the Commission has done a great job by trying to address some of the pressing concerns of the sector. Lastly, the Commission is silent on net neutrality and the issue of the E and V bands that are critical for 5G etc... a decision should to be taken on (soon),” Joshi said.
The country is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets and also the world’s fastest growing internet services market, and the move is likely to boost revenue for airlines as well as service providers. The recommendations, which include providing a mechanism for the lawful interception and monitoring of Wi-Fi in aircraft cabins to ensure safety, were provided to the DoT, which will draft the final policy, reported Reuters.
Updated Date: May 01, 2018 18:30:13 IST