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In-flight calls, Wi-Fi over Indian airspace get green signal from Telecom panel


Flyers will now soon able to use voice and data services during flights, the Telecom Commission has approved much-awaited proposal in-flight connectivity in Indian airspace.

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan talking to reporters said that almost all recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on this have been accepted. The government is accelerating the process and within 3 months it should be ready, she said.

As part of the in-flight connectivity proposal, the Telecom Commission will initially allow Wi-Fi on flights and slowly get into voice services as well. Now airlines will be free to offer Wi-Fi services to passengers. As of now, no decision has been taken on the pricing.

In January, TRAI issued a recommendations to allow both telephony and Internet services on domestic flights. Both the domestic and international carrier passengers would be able to make calls and web surfing after an aircraft fly above the minimum height of 3000 meters, the body has said in its recommendation.

The internet services will be allowed through Wi-Fi onboard. For calling services, the airplane/flight mode on the phone will have to be kept off. A separate category of IFC service provider should be created to permit IFC services in Indian airspace where service provider should be required to get itself registered with the DoT

Earlier in August last year, DoT had asked the TRAI to furnish its recommendations on licensing terms and provision of in-flight connectivity for voice, data and video services and associated issues related to entry fee, licence fee and spectrum.

Currently, telecom service providers pay 3-6% and 8% of their adjusted gross revenue as spectrum usage charges and licence fee to the DoT, respectively.

Makes a way foreign firms

Soon after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendation to allow in-flight connectivity (IFC) in Airlines, Chicago-based in-flight internet company Gogo has announced its plan to enter the Indian market. It is eyeing Indian market with major investment plans.

A $700-million US-based in-flight connectivity provider will open an engineering and software development centre in Chennai.

It will be Gogo’s biggest technology centre outside its headquarters in Chicago, which will come up at DLF IT Park, and will be operational by April with around 30 employees.

By year-end, it plans to employ around 100 people.

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