Wi-Fi on flights:You may have to wait another year

  • M Rajendran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2015 00:27 IST

You may have to wait longer to avail Wi-Fi on domestic flights.

The civil aviation ministry’s proposal to allow Indian carriers to offer Wi-Fi services inside the flight is likely to get delayed by a year, in the face of various questions raised regarding the implementation of this service.

The proposal is currently under scrutiny of the communications ministry’s Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing, and experts are examining the security and technical issues.

“The proposal was received early this year and we have examined some aspects, but it is too early to comment,” a communications ministry official said.

Globally, eight airlines offer free in-flight Wi-Fi including Emirates, JetBlue, Norwegian, Turkish Airlines, Air China, Philippine Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Nok Air.

Among domestic airlines, only Air India and SpiceJet have shown interest.

“We have been planning to have Wi-Fi on our planes for some time, which will be available for a fee,” an AI official said.

“It is a major customer service initiative, given the need for connectivity on board,” aviation sector consultant Kapil Kaul told HT.

The WPC has held discussions with various stakeholders, and is likely to use Wi-Fi on a trial basis by year-end without passengers on board. The service will be first used in short-distance flights and later for long ones.

“We expect trials without passengers to be concluded by year-end which will look into security parameters. Many government agencies will be involved in testing,” a source in the WPC said.

Speed and performance are likely to be main challenges for the WPC in the implementation of the service. “But set-up cost and pricing will be major challenges from operational point,” Kaul said.

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