Govt. notifies rules for in-flight, maritime mobile phone services

• Soon, travellers will be able to make calls and access the internet through their phones during air travel and ship voyage within Indian territory.

• The government has notified rules for providing such services.

• Indian and foreign airlines and shipping companies operating in the country are now allowed to provide in-flight and maritime voice and data services in partnership with a valid Indian telecom licence holder.

Crucial highlights

• This service will be provided only within India and also to those who fly over the Indian airspace.

• This decision of the government will solve connectivity woes for air passengers.

• In-flight Connectivity (IFC) will help the passengers do digital payment in the aircraft while on board.

• The department of telecom (DoT) notified in-flight connectivity rules this Friday.

• These rules may be called the Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018.

• IFC providers, who are interested to give onboard wifi facility for flights, have been invited. The internet service provider can apply for the same to DoT to get the licence.

• This decision will not only benefit passengers but also big telecom players like Airtel and Jio who are learnt to be keen on entering this space.

• Spice Jet has already made a mind to Boeing 737 Max is equipped with SatCom and is just waiting for the approval of the regulatory body and government.

About IFMC

• The in-flight and maritime connectivity (IFMC) can be provided using telecom networks on the ground as well as using satellites.

• In case of using satellite system for providing IFMC, the telegraph message shall be passed through the satellite gateway earth station located within India

• Such satellite gateway earth stations shall be interconnected with the NLD (national long distance) or access service or ISP licensee’s network for further delivery of service,” the notification said.

• Foreign airlines like Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates have onboard wifi facility but this is limited as they go off when their aircraft are in Indian airspace.

• Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued its recommendations on IFC months ago and it took almost 11 months for DoT to notified the final rules.

• The IFMC services will be activated once the aircraft attains a minimum height of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace to avoid interference with terrestrial mobile networks.

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

Prelims level: Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018

Mains level: In-flight and maritime connectivity issues

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