The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a supplementary consultation paper titled “Data Communication Services Between Aircraft and Ground Stations Provided by Organisations Other Than Airports Authority of India”.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) through its letter dated April 12, 2022 stated, that very high frequency (VHF) data link services consist of the data for tracking the aircraft for the safety of flights. The Ministry of Communications has made frequency assignments to Société Internationa le de Telecommunications Aeronautiques, (SITA) and Bird Consultancy Services (BCS) to operate VHF data communication link between aircraft and ground stations. Considering that VHF data link services to provide aircraft communication addressing and reporting (ACAR) service can be beneficial to track aircrafts on a real-time basis and help investigations, search and rescue operations in the unfortunate event of an aviation disaster, DoT requested TRAI to provide recommendations on the following an appropriate mechanism to regulate the services provided by these organisations, and the manner in which the frequency assignment should be made to these organisations.

To this end, TRAI issued a consultation paper on “Data Communication Services between Aircraft and Ground Stations for Services Provided by Organisations other than Airport Authority of India” on December 10, 2022, for soliciting comments from stakeholders on the suitable regulatory regime. An open house discussion (OHD) was also conducted on March 10, 2023. While examining the inputs received from stakeholders on the consultation paper, it was observed that specific inputs had not been received on some of the aspects related to service licence for the provision of data communication services between aircraft and ground stations, methodology for spectrum assignment, and spectrum charging mechanism, which will be necessary for a comprehensive analysis of the matter and formulating the recommendations.

Accordingly, the regulator has decided to issue this supplementary consultation paper to seek inputs from stakeholders on such aspects. Written comments on the issues raised in the supplementary consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by August 17, 2023, and counter comments by August 24, 2023.