Trai may allow mobile services on board aircraft

The 'airplane mode' on smartphone may soon become redundant for frequent flyers as Trai  may soon allow mobile services and might even offer WiFi on flights.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) yesterday said that the in-flight connectivity of both internet and MCA (mobile communication on aircraft) services should be provided over Indian airspace.

Trai said that the decision whether they need one or both services for their customers, would need to be taken by airlines.

TRAI also added, ''As long as the provision of the service is technically feasible and security concerns can be addressed, there should be no regulatory barrier in the provisioning of any of these services.''

The advice from Trai follows multiple rounds of meetings and consultations with the industry and other stakeholders, which started in September 2017.

TRAI said, ''Both Internet and MCA service should be permitted as in-flight connectivity (IFC) services in the Indian airspace.''

However, in order to maintain compatibility with terrestrial networks, Trai has suggested that the minimum height at which mobile communication can be done should be restricted to 3,000 metres. Currently, the height is reached in four to five minutes after take-off.

India which is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world, is also the fastest growing internet services market. According to commentators, the step was likely to boost revenues for service providers and airlines.

The recommendations, which include provision of a mechanism for the lawful interception and monitoring of wi-fi in aircraft cabins to ensure safety, were provided to the Department of Telecommunications which will draft the final policy.

On finalisation, it would for the first time, allow flyers in India to surf the internet on a plane, a service common in many foreign countries.