The rules to allow in-flight calling and internet surfing in the Indian airspace could come as early as January, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha has hinted. He said that the Telecom Ministry has sought the views of the Law Ministry on in-flight connectivity rules and he is hopeful of notifying the norms soon thereafter. “We have sought permission of Law Ministry, once that comes through...I believe that it will come in week or ten days....then we can start it,” PTI quoted Sinha as saying.
On May 1, the Telecom Commission of the Department of Telecom (DoT) had cleared a proposal for allowing in-flight connectivity, something which is already available in several developed nations. “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 said at that time.
The PTI report also satates that the in-flight connectivity norms will cover maritime transport. On extending the coverage to territorial waters or Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a senior official said that the “Communications Ministry is of the view that the international best practices should be followed.” “We have said...and the notification hopefully will say that we are aligned on international law on this, which is synched with EEZ. We are trying to fine tune the language,” the official noted.
The Telecom Ministry had also said that a separate category of licencee, called In-Flight Connectivity Provider, will also be created and Re 1 will be the token licence fee. Major airlines, including Air India and Vistara, have welcomed the government's take on the in-flight connectivity. Recently, SpiceJet said that it has decided not to depend on tattered monthly magazines or downloaded videos for in-flight entertainment, and will offer flyers high-speed internet connectivity on its newly-launched SpiceJet MAX aircrafts.