In-flight connectivity will generate new revenue stream for telecom, airline sectors: COAI

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New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Telecom industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) on Tuesday said the Telecom Commission’s decision to allow in-flight connectivity would generate new stream of revenue for the telecom and airline sectors.

“We welcome the decision to accept the regulator’s recommendation on in-flight connectivity. This can be a new revenue stream for telcos as well as airlines,” said COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews.

Calling and texting from aircraft will soon become a reality as the Telecom Commission on Tuesday has approved in-flight connectivity, facilitating both voice and data calls and date surfing in Indian airspace, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said 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,” she told reporters after the meeting on Tuesday.

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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.”

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

“We get 10 million grievances per quarter. A three tier mechanism has been proposed. First will be within the telecom service providers the first level of complaints can be lodged. Then if the consumer is not satisfied with the response, each TSP will set up an appelalte mechanism within itself to which the person can complaint. After that if it does not work they can move to consumer grievance redressal forums,” Sundararajan said.

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“On top will be a Telecom Ombudsman created by TRAI. The TRAI has said they do not have the powers to create, therefore, it has now been proposed to give them powers to create an ombudsman mechanism,” she added.

On this, COAI said: “We are of the view that, since overall complaints are miniscule in comparison to the subscriber base and the rupee values are not very large, existing mechanism of compliant redressal are adequate. We are not sure as to how setting up of an Ombudsman will add further value to the existing system of compliant redressal.”

While expressing its disapproval of the Telecom Commission’s decision of setting up of public WiFi, COAI said: “TRAI’s recommendations on Public WiFi allows entities to provide internet services on WiFi technology under a registration.

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“COAI believes that allowing internet services under a registration will tilt the level playing field against the licenced TSPs who are forced to pay levies and ensure adherence to various regulatory and security related requirements in the interest of the country for providing the same service. COAI is of the view that Public WiFi should be allowed only through UL (VNO).”

–IANS

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