Soon, you’ll be able to make calls, surf the internet while flying

Services likely to be launched in 3-4 months, will be available once aircraft reaches altitude of 3,000 meters.

Soon, air travellers will be able to make calls and surf internet during flights as Telecom Commission – the highest decision-making body of Department of Telecommunications (DoT), has approved the proposal of in-flight mobile and data connectivity. According to a top official of DoT, the services are likely to be launched in 3-4 months by service providers.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in January had recommended the creation of an in-flight connectivity (IFC) service provider, which will pay an annual licence fee of Re 1 initially, after entering into an arrangement with telecom operators. The telecom regulator had proposed IFC providers should be permitted to use either INSAT (Indian Satellite System, or foreign satellite capacity leased through the department of space) or foreign satellites outside INSAT systems in Indian airspace.

The in-flight connectivity services will be available once the aircraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 meters. The restriction is being imposed in order to maintain compatibility with terrestrial networks. The official said DoT will make the necessary amendments to the relevant laws to create a separate category of licences for in-flight connectivity operators, which could be telecom service providers. “After making the amendments, the department will invite applications from service providers,” the official added.

The Telecom Commission also approved the setting up of an ombudsman for grievance redressal in the telecom sector. Trai will set up the ombudsman and for that necessary amendments will be made in the Trai Act. As per the current Act, the regulator doesn’t have the powers to set up an ombudsman.

Also, approval was granted to internet telephony services which will allow users to make calls through a wi-fi or any internet connectivity to any mobile or landline. Apart from that, the commission also approved recommendations on ease of doing business and a couple of proposals related to USO Fund.

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