Early implementation of Telecom panel’s nod to in-flight connectivity: Prabhu

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New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday assured early “implementation” of the Telecom Commission’s approval for offering in-flight connectivity within Indian airspace.

According to the minister, who also heads the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the government will now “work towards creating the license framework” for a special category of service providers called ‘In-flight’ connectivity provider.

Prabhu pointed out that the approval will also allow airlines to provide “dramatic, yet cost effective, enhancements to the passenger experience”.

Earlier in the day, the Telecom Commission approved in-flight connectivity for both voice and data calls and date surfing in Indian airspace.

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters here: “Almost all recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on this have been accepted. We are expediting the process (to start) and within 3-4 months it should be ready. We will be operationalising this decision immediately.”

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She said that there were only two exceptions to TRAI’s recommendations. The sector regulator said that foreign satellites and foreign gateways should also be permitted, “but there had been an earlier committee of secretaries meeting that decided that it should be an Indian satellite or a Department of Space approved satellite and the gateway should be in India.”

Sundararajan said: “We have to create a separate category of licencee, called In-Flight Connectivity Provider. This will also be applicable for ships. Re 1 will be the token licence fee. It is applicable above 3,000 metres.”

She also said that the matter need not go to the Cabinet for approval.

In addition, keeping in view that grievance redressal in the telecom sector has been a long pending demand, the panel approved the proposal of forming a Telecom Ombudsman.

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