People will soon be able to make calls and access internet through their phones during air travel and ship voyage within Indian territory as the government has notified rules for providing such services. Indian and foreign airlines and shipping companies operating in the country can provide in-flight and maritime voice and data services in partnership with a valid Indian telecom licence holder.
“These rules may be called the Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018. They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette,” the notification dated December 14 said. The in-flight and maritime connectivity (IFMC) can be provided using telecom networks on ground as well as using satellites. The services can be provided by a valid telecom licence holder in India through domestic and foreign satellites having permission of the Department of Space, it said.
“In case of using satellite system for providing IFMC, the telegraph message shall be passed through the satellite gateway earth station located within India, and 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.
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. The IFMC licences will be granted against annual fee of Re 1 for a period of 10 years and the permit holder will have to pay licence fees and spectrum charges based on revenue earned from providing services.