In a revolutionary move, the Indian government has cleared the proposal to allow travellers to make phone calls and browse internet during flights in the Indian airspace. By Shikha Pushpan

 

Millions of air travellers will soon be able to use the Internet services and make phone calls during flights in the Indian airspace after the Telecom Commission gave its nod to a much awaited proposal last week. The in-flight connectivity facility is expected to roll out in 3-4 months, after necessary arrangements are made between the airlines, telecom companies, and other intermediaries involved in the process. While use of mobile phones will still be banned during takeoff and landing, passengers can avail mobile communication facilities once the flight hits an altitude of about 3,000 metres.

 

 

 

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“Exciting times ahead in the Indian skies as Telecom Commission approves data and voice services in flights over Indian airspace will follow up closely to ensure earliest implementation,” Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said in a series of tweets on the occasion.

 

According to reports, Air India and Vistara have already welcomed the government’s move. It is expected that consumers will need to pay additional tariffs for availing these in-flight facilities.

 

Though over 30 global airlines, such as AirAsia, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer in-flight wi-fi services, they currently have to switch off the facility when they enter the Indian airspace.

 

As per the Indian civil aviation regulations, passengers are required to put their mobile phones on ‘flight mode’ to avoid interference with aircrafts communication systems. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in January this year, had recommended to the government that in-flight mobile communication can be allowed, using satellite and terrestrial network but after providing a mechanism for lawful interception and monitoring of wi-fi in aircraft cabins to ensure safety.