20th October, 2018
Technology

TRAI openly asks - Shall in-flight Wi-Fi be allowed in India? ; cites tech & security concerns

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is seeking views from citizens on whether or not in-flight connectivity should be allowed in India. It has invited the views of common citizens to direct the government licensing framework for this.

In a recently released consultation paper, TRAI has invited the mass views.  TRAI is hosting an open consultation on this. A detailed read of consultation can be taken here:

http://trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Consultation%20Paper_29092017.pdf

The following answers/suggestions may be mailed at following address by October 27th 2017:

Syed Tausfic Abbas, Advisor (Networks, Spectrum and Licensing), TRAI, advmn@trai.gov.in

The views are sought on:

What should be allowed?

  • Whether Internet or calling shall be allowed on Indian flights, or both.
  • Should international airlines, that fly across multiple jurisdictions, be allowed to provide in-flight connectivity over Indian airspace?
  •        Which restrictions and regulations should be applicable to in-flight connectivity providers?

Licensing and Spectrum issues

  • Should the standards for offering these services be at par with global standards?
  • How to ensure in-flight connectivity doesn’t interfere with terrestrial connectivity?
  • Should it be technology neutral, or restricted to the same frequency bands as in the EU? Should it be allowed via INSAT?
  • Should connectivity be in-flight only or can it be gate-to-gate?
  • Should any Unified License holder (Category A) be provided In-Flight connectivity, or should there be a separate category of license?
  • Can an In-flight connectivity provider tie-up with an existing licensee who is registered as a service provider in India? Should this require a separate permission?

Security concerns

The TRAI has already decided that security agencies should be able to monitor traffic to and from user terminal in Indian airspace. It is conducting a poll to find out the how interception may be possible? It has placed four options for it:

  • The use of Indian Satellite System while travelling over Indian airspace can be mandated, but there are two challenges here: firstly that the domestic satellite capacity may be limited, and secondly, foreign airlines may not switch to the Indian Satellite System
  • Permit the use of Indian or foreign satellites through the department of space. Under this, “airborne IFC equipments should get connected to Ground Earth Stations located in India.”
  • Traffic to and from user terminals in Indian airspace may be sent to a node owned and operated by an Indian entity to address the requirement of lawful interception directly or in mirror mode.
  • Not put any such restriction on international flights.