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TRAI responds to DoT’s objections; reiterates its stand on in-flight connectivity provisions

June 06, 2018

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has rejected the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) objections on two points in its recommendations on in-flight connectivity (IFC) services, and backed the recommended use of foreign satellites and gateways for provision of the same.

While DoT approved the broad contours of the service recommended by the TRAI, it raised objections flagged by the committee of secretaries on three counts. In response, the TRAI argued that the panel’s view of using Indian satellites and satellites approved by the Department of Space (DoS), with Indian gateways, was not implementable.

As per TRAI, offering voice services was more complex than offering data or internet services. Since several countries already offered IFC services, airlines would not be willing to modify the aircraft due to downtime and costs, and since they were governed by bi-lateral mutual agreements, Indian airlines may face the same issues while flying over other countries. If we do not allow the foreign aircraft to provide voice services using their satellite and gateways over the Indian airspace, the other countries will also not allow the Indian aircraft to provide voice services while flying- over their jurisdictions.

On the issue of lawful interception, TRAI said that the IFC service provider and the partnering Indian unified licensee will have to ensure that lawful Interception happens through mirror-mode gateway mechanism.

On the third point raised of interface requirements for aircraft earth station (AES) need not be deployed, TRAI reiterated its stand that the requirement was mandatory for accessing satellite networks in India.

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