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Indian Telecom commission gives nod to In-flight WiFi, calls

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.
“Almost all recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on this have been accepted. We are expediting the process (to start) and within 3-4 months it should be ready. We will be operationalising this decision immediately,”  Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters after the meeting on Tuesday.

She said there were only two exception to TRAI’s recommendations. The sector regulator said that foreign satellites and foreign gateways should also be permitted, “but there had been an earlier committee of secretaries meeting that decided that it should be an Indian satellite or a Department of Space approved satellite and the gateway should be in India.”

Sundararajan said: “We have to create a separate category of licensee, called In-Flight Connectivity Provider. This will also be applicable for ships. Re 1 will be the token licence fee. It is applicable above 3,000 metres.”

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