NEW DELHI: Making calls and browsing the Internet on flights will soon become a reality as the Telecom Commission on Tuesday approved the much-awaited in-flight connectivity (IFC) proposal.
“Arrangements will need to be made between telecom companies, airlines and other intermediaries involved in the process… I think, for consumers, the services can be rolled over in the next 3-4 months,” Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said, adding that the Telecom Commission’s decision would be operationalised immediately.
A senior telecom official told TNIE that the final implementation may take some extra time as it involves approvals of various departments and ministries because of security concerns.
Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said exciting times are ahead in Indian skies as the Telecom Commission approved data and voice services in flights over Indian airspace. The minister added that he would ensure the “earliest implementation” of the proposal.
However, the main question bothering consumers is whether they will have to pay extra for the new service. The telecom secretary said this would be decided by the operator and the airline.
“It would have to be worked out on a mutually-agreed basis between the service provider and the airline. Each will have a service provider of choice with whom they may have international agreements,” Sundararajan said. It is expected that consumers are likely to bear additional tariffs to avail in-flight connectivity.
Beside approving the IFC, the Telecom Commission also approved the use of similar services on ships, internet telephony services which would let users make calls over the Internet to mobile phones or landlines, setting up of an ombudsman for grievance redressal in the telecom sector and a few other proposals made by Trai.