The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to allow only data/internet services aboard flights within India in the initial rollout of In-Flight Connectivity scheme.
Voice services have been put on a hold for now on account of some technical issues.
The DoT is likely to approach the Law Ministry next week for the review of these guidelines before notifying them. It could take around two weeks for the Ministry to sanction these guidelines.
They have held meetings with telecom operators and airlines, some of whom have shown interest to offer these services.
Once the licenses are rolled out, the carriers and telecom companies will reportedly have to bid to acquire the license for the service they want to push out.
While mobile phone use will still be restricted during take-off and landing, the Telecom Commission has approved lifting the ban on the use of mobile phones and internet services at cruising altitudes.
While it is still too early for a definite pricing structure for in-flight connectivity, it is anticipated that the cost of installing this will cost the airlines a lot.
Each aircraft would require an investment of about $1 million. The airplane will also have to be grounded for at least 10 days to retrofit the aircraft with the technology. In current circumstances, this revamping may not come across as very welcoming.
Globally, many airlines are offering Wi-Fi for passengers, but they have to switch off the facility when they enter Indian airspace. AirAsia, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic are among the 30 airlines who have to do this.
Indian carriers have been advocating internet services on flights as it would result in add-on revenues and bring them at par with international flights.