Govt may soon allow Indian carriers to offer on-flight Wi-Fi service

The civil aviation ministry will soon allow fliers to use Wi-Fi facility on board on flights in the Indian airspace, and a decision is expected within the next 10 days, the government official said on Wednesday.

"I will be able to give you good news in 10 days," a report in the Mint quoted civil aviation secretary R N Choubey as saying.

At present, fliers are not allowed to use mobile phones and internet when they are in the Indian airspace.

"There is fairly a good chance that in ten days permission will be given to operate Wi-Fi in the Indian airspace," the report quoted Choubey as saying, adding, much will depend on the "ability to track voice and data".

Agencies should have access to the details and if need be it can be tracked, he explained.

Currently, fliers cannot access Wi-Fi inside an airplane due to security reasons. None of the Indian aircrafts offer Wi-Fi on board as they find the service too expensive.

Also, on-flight Wi-Fi service would make flying costlier for passengers as the airlines will be free to fix charges for the service.

Several international airlines provide Wi-Fi on-board. Airplanes also mostly use the same towers that provide wireless data on laptops or smartphones, when on the ground.

Base stations on the ground communicate with the antennas placed on the underside of the planes which gets Wi-Fi on board. The signals so received, however, will not ensure high speed internet as the planes move at high speeds.

Beyond the range of the ground network and over the seas, however, the planes will have to tap satellites for internet connection.