While in-flight Wi-Fi isn’t new or indeed even restrictively priced anymore, the facility is relatively unheard of in India. This is because the Indian government’s department of telecommunication (DoT) has thus far not allowed the facility on flights over Indian airspace, citing security and feasibility reasons. However, a source in the know on proceedings has suggested that the DoT could approve the proposal at its next meeting scheduled for May 1. Also Read - Airtel 5G Mumbai trials show download speeds of 1.2Gbps, upload at 850MbpsAlso Read - Let our firms take part in 5G trials, China tells India
We have taken approvals from all (including ministry of home affairs)… we will initially allow data services but slowly get into voice services also, the person, requesting anonymity in a conversation to Live Mint, suggested. Once approved, airlines operating in India will be permitted to offer in-flight Wi-Fi services to passengers. Pricing and strategy around the service, as well as the installation of the technology on aircraft, would be up to the airlines. Also Read - DoT permits telecom service providers to go ahead with 5G trials
The service is expected to be a premium one, as the cost of setting up the Wi-Fi infrastructure on aircraft, as well as delivering it, is still relatively high. Globally, airlines and service providers charge around $7 (approximately Rs 460) per hour, going up to $25 (approximately Rs 1650) per day on use covering multiple flights with the same airline.
While it is expensive as compared to regular internet costs, it isn’t entirely restrictive anymore and can make sense for business travelers looking to remain connected even when on flights. In India, charges would be similar, although airlines would likely offer the services only on key travel sectors, or flights that are longer in duration.
The proposal has been in the works for a while now, and key stakeholders have been waiting for the DoT approval to begin implementing their technology. While there were initial security concerns around the use of the technology, these concerns have been addressed by stakeholders in the technology and we could soon see airlines operating in India offer the service.