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Air travelers in India will soon be able to make calls and browse the internet on flights

On: December 2, 2020

Aviation regulator DGCA has allowed airlines to offer Wi-Fi onboard in India. With the new directive, you will be able to call your friends or browse the internet while cruising at an altitude of 30,000 feet or higher.

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In a new notification, DGCA has approved the use of voice and data through WiFi while onboard a flight. Arun Kumar, Director General of Civil Aviation passed the notification on November 24th. The notification includes fresh Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) to be followed by all airlines.

Wi-Fi to soon be available on flights in India

DGCA

DGCA has paved the way for WiFi onboard flights in India (Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash)

With the change, airlines will be able to immediately apply to introduce Wi-Fi onboard their flights. Vistara is the only air carrier to offer Wi-Fi access onboard its flights at present. The carrier is offering Wi-Fi services on its Delhi to London route for free till September 30th as an introductory offer. The service is available on the Boeing B787-9 aircraft used for international flights.

At the time of its launch, Vistara had said it will bring Wi-Fi access to its Airbus A321neo aircraft as well. Airbus A321neo is the aircraft used for domestic flights and Vistara was awaiting regulatory approval. The notification should speedtrack deployment of Wi-Fi services on Vistara and other air carriers.

The draft rules for offering WiFi onboard were first introduced in August this year. The ability to offer in-flight connectivity has been a topic of discussion since 2018. Some companies even got approval to offer in-flight connectivity service to airlines. Hughes Communications India became the first to get such a license in 2019.

Globally, only eight airlines offer free inflight Wi-Fi and others charge a huge premium for onboard Wi-Fi access. Another problem with onboard wireless access is the slow speeds. It is not clear whether DGCA will offer any benchmark for quality of Wi-Fi services offered by airlines.

While air travel has plummeted during the pandemic, airlines have increased their focus on technology and safer travel options. There is a good possibility that next time when you get onboard a flight, it will have Wi-Fi access. The question is whether it would be free and if not, whether the charges will be nominal for air travellers.

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