The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, commonly known as TRAI, has spoken favourably of letting flyers access internet and making phone calls inside any commercial aircraft (Indian and foreign) including business jets and executive aircrafts, as long as they are flying in Indian airspace. TRAI suggested that both internet and calling facilities should be allowed with a minimum restriction on height up to 3,000 metres in Indian airspace.
The height restriction is recommended by TRAI in order to avoid the risk of interference among terrestrial mobile networks with the plane’s communication frequencies. According to the Indian telecom regulator, the recommendation has been proposed following consultations and open house discussions on the topic.
One of the interesting points put forward by the sector regulator is that once flyers are allowed to access their electronic devices on flight/airplane mode, internet access should be enabled over Wi-Fi. TRAI also said that In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) service providers should be allowed to charge a flat annual token license fee of Re 1.
However, IFC service providers first need to register with DoT (Department of Telecommunications), no matter whether it is an Indian entity or not, TRAI added. Once they (IFC service providers) come to terms with Unified Licensee having appropriate authorisation, they can start providing their services.
According to TRAI, over 80% of passengers prefer flying with airlines that offer internet services, and they also expect their connectivity experience to be similar to that of home or office. So, it remains to be seen how long it will take before this recommendation finally turns into a reality.