Good news for flyers: Domestic air passengers to get in-flight net connectivity, here is how

By: | Published: October 18, 2018 5:02 AM

Voice services would require more time to be allowed as there are some gateway issues that need to be resolved.

trai, aviation sector, aviation industryThe Telecom Commission, which met on Wednesday, allowed telecom operators to discontinue some services without surrendering their licences.

Domestic air travellers will soon be able to surf internet while flying. Calling services, however, would take some more time to be made operational as the government will soon allow in-flight connectivity (IFC) services.

Sources said that IFC will soon become operational, but initially only data services would be offered on flights. Voice services would require more time to be allowed as there are some gateway issues that need to be resolved.

The department of telecommunications will create a separate class of licensees for which the charges will be nominal, a token amount of `1. The IFCs will then need to tie-up with access service providers – the likes of Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. Connectivity is provided in flights via a satellite link. Charges will be more because the IFC will need to pay carriage cost and termination rates to access service providers. In-flight services can only begin when a flight is above 3,000 metres. During take-off and landing time, such services will not be permitted.

On the issue of SIM verification, DoT sources said the ministry will ensure that mobile services are not affected on account of the Supreme Court verdict on Aadhaar-based eKYC verification.

“We will have to see if operators need to go back to the old method of manual verification for subscriber verification or there can be another way for eKYC,” they added.

When asked, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said, “We will meet UIDAI, law ministry officials along with the operators soon to ensure we are in compliance with the Supreme Court order and to explore the way forward”.

On September 26, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court had struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar act, which allowed private entities to access Aadhaar data.

The Telecom Commission, which met on Wednesday, allowed telecom operators to discontinue some services without surrendering their licences. Such a step would help companies like Reliance Communications, who have shut their mobile services, but can continue to offer enterprise services.

“Besides, now on part sale of spectrum, operators have to inform the ministry 45 days in advance, on which DoT has to respond with its views within the first 15 days. In case of full spectrum sale, operators will have to inform in 60 days, on which DoT will have to respond in the first 21 days with its views and objections,” Sundararajan told reporters after the meeting.

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