The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sent a revised proposal that will enable in-flight access to voice, data and video services.
Confirming the same, the Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey stated that the DoT has sent a revised proposal for consideration to the Committee of Secretaries (home, communication and civil aviation ministries) after re-examining its earlier proposal related to interception by security agencies when required.
Choubey added that the proposal will be taken up at the next meeting of the Secretaries.
• In order to provide on-board Wi-Fi services, the union government would have to amend the Telegraph Act, 1885 as well as the related Indian Telegraphy Rules.
• Currently, passengers –both domestic and international- are unable to use in-flight Internet services over Indian airspace.
• Even the International airlines that offer the service have to discontinue it while the aircraft is flying over the Indian airspace.
Elaborating on the need for in-flight connectivity, India’s industry body Assocham had stated in a letter addressed to PM Modi in 2016 that the facility would only help substantially improve safety of airlines as it enables flight tracking in near real-time, streaming of flight data recorder of the aircraft in real-time and facilitating real-time intervention for safety and security based on flight data monitoring.
• Sources suggest that the Home Ministry had raised concerns about security agencies being able to monitor data and voice transmission in the initial proposal pushed forward by the DoT under the Communication Ministry.
• The revised proposal has addressed the issue of flight data monitoring.
Several countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal permit the use of Internet on flights. Presently, domestic airlines such as Vistara and Jet Airways provide pre-loaded in-flight entertainment content on some of their flights.