DoT awaits clarification from Shipping Ministry on in-flight connectivity norms

      09/17/2018

The Telecom Department is awaiting clarification from the Shipping Ministry over the area to be covered in the sea for mobile services under in-flight connectivity service before releasing the final rules. In-flight connectivity norms will also cover maritime transport.

“DoT is in final stage of issuing in-flight connectivity rules. The Shipping Ministry has to clarify whether the coverage for mobile services in water vessels is to be provided till territorial waters or EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” an official source told PTI.

Territorial water extends up to 12 nautical miles (around 22 kilometers) from coastal line of the country, while EEZ of the country covers up to 200 nautical miles.

“The framework will be issued as soon as the DoT receives clarification from the Shipping Ministry. It is expected to be completed very soon,” the source said.

Telecom Commission - the highest policy making body of the Department of Telecom (DoT) - had on May 1 cleared the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for allowing telecom services on flights and maritime transport under in-flight connectivity rules. The service is now available in most of the developed markets.

Major airlines, including Air India and Vistara, have welcomed the government’s decision, and ‘the Civil Aviation Minister, Suresh Prabhu, has said that he will ensure “earliest implementation” of the proposal.

While usage of mobile phones will still be restricted during takeoff and landing, Telecom Commission has approved the lifting of a ban on the usage of mobile phone and internet services at cruising altitudes.

Globally, many airlines are already offering wi-fi for passengers, but they currently have to switch off the facility when they enter the Indian airspace.

AirAsia, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic are among 30 airlines that are already allowing usage of mobile phones on aircraft.

A separate category of licensees - in-flight service providers - will be created for offering such services, and the licence fee for such niche providers will be pegged at Re 1.