Telcos oppose new licensees for in-flight services

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Indian mobile operators have opposed the telecom regulator’s recommendations for the creation of a separate license category for offering in-flight communication services, saying mobile phone operators are best placed to provide them.

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“We do not support any separate category of IFC service provider,” said Rajan Mathews, director general at Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents all major telcos, even as he welcomed the move to allow internet and mobile services in flights.

COAI said in-flight connectivity (IFC) should only be permitted over licensed spectrum, or bandwidth which is currently being used for mobile phone services, thus also opposing the regulator’s suggestions to use airwaves being currently used for satellite services.

“We have on ground spectrum licences and they are sufficient for providing in-flight connectivity,” Mathews told ET.

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He said IFC will significantly improve the passenger experience, enhance tourism and bolster non-aeronautical revenues for the airline industry.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had on Friday recommended internet access through Wi-Fi be allowed within the aircraft, adding that making calls be allowed once an aircraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 meters.

Trai suggested creating licences for IFC service providers. It said foreign telecom operators should be allowed to offer voice services in partnership with a local telco so that the mandated lawful interception requirement is met. On-board internet traffic must be routed to a satellite gateway on Indian soil, it said.

The regulator also said IFC providers should have the flexibility to use technology and spectrum – within the Ku, Ka and L bands – as long as they are consistent with international standards and do not interfere with terrestrial networks.

Courtesy – Economic Times

 

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