Trai for mobile services on flight

Trai for mobile services on flight

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday recommended allowing mobile telephony and Internet services for passengers during air travel through satellite and terrestrial network.

"The authority recommends that Internet and Mobile Communication on Aircraft (MCA) service should be permitted as In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) in the Indian airspace," Trai stated.

Earlier, the Department of Telecom had sought Trai's views over the proposal to introduce voice, data and video services over Indian airspace for domestic, international and overflying flights.

Several countries have already adopted in-flight mobile services and number of airlines across the globe, including Air France, All Nippon Airways and British Airways, allow in-flight mobile services in select flights and certain routes.

Several domestic and international airlines had earlier urged the government to take steps to allow similar services in the country.

The regulator said that for mobile services, there should be flexibility to IFC service providers in terms of use of technology and frequencies inside the aircraft cabin that should be consistent with international standards, provided no harmful interference is caused.

"The operation of MCA services should be permitted with a minimum height restriction of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks," the regulator recommended.

Announcements regarding this should be made after boarding is over and the aircraft is about to taxi, it said its recommendation.  

The telecom watchdog also  said that a separate category of IFC Service provider should be created to permit IFC services in Indian space. The IFC service provider should be required to get itself registered with DOT and it need not be an Indian entity", it said.

The regulator said that the IFC service provider should be permitted to use either INSAT systems (Indian Satellite System or foreign satellite capacity leased through Department of Space) or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in the Indian airspace.

"The deployment of a gateway in India provides an effective mechanism to lawfully intercept and monitor the in- cabin Internet traffic while the aircraft is in Indian airspace. Therefore, the onboard Internet traffic must be routed to a Satellite Gateway on Indian soil,"  Trai  recommended.

It added that routing of traffic through satellite gateway in India should be imposed regardless of whether the satellite in question is an Indian satellite system or not.

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