The Telecom Commission has approved a proposal to allow airline passengers to access internet in their flights and will start framing licence terms for in-flight connectivity (IFC) providers.
“We will now have to create a separate category of licencees called in-flight connectivity provider,” said Aruna Sundararajan, the telecom secretary. “These will provide internet as well as voice services within Indian territorial airspace.”
Pricing of the services will, however, be decided by the respective airlines.
The services would be available on both domestic and international flights, she added. According to the top telecom bureaucrat, the process of framing licence terms for IFCs could take about three months.
The new rule would allow mobile calling service above 3,000 m of Indian airspace and the service would be through an Indian satellite approved by the Department of Space. The telecom regulator had, however, suggested that the government also allow international satellites.
The aviation industry welcomed the move by the telecom commission. Civil aviation minster Suresh Prabhu said he would ensure the earliest implementation of the proposal and that the government was committed to improve services for passengers.
“Providing passenger amenities have been the endeavour of the Narendra Modi government,” said the minister, currently in South Africa. “We are constantly upgrading our services. This decision will go a long way in making sure people will be using the flying time more productively and efficiently.”
While airlines such as IndiGo and SpiceJet are studying the government’s stance, Vistara airline welcomed the move. “We welcome the decision as it will mean more convenience to air travellers,” said an airline spokesperson. “We will study the recommendations in details and in due course determine the economics of offering on domestic and international route.”