TRAI had earlier recommended allowing in-flight mobile telephony and internet services

Telecom Commission on Tuesday approved a proposal for allowing people to make phone calls and use internet services in domestic and international flights in India, with certain riders, an official said.

Telecom Commission – the highest decision making body of telecom department – also approved regulator TRAI’s recommendations on internet telephony in its meeting in New Delhi today. Another proposal that received approval entails creation of an ombudsman to deal with telecom grievances, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters.

The ombudsman will be set up under TRAI and will require amendment to the TRAI Act. Nearly 10 million grievances are received per quarter in telecom sector, she said adding the new mechanism of ombudsman will lead to a better and satisfactory consumer grievance redressal system.

Telecom Commission’s approval comes months after the telecom regulator TRAI recommended allowing in-flight mobile telephony and internet services.

“The authority recommends that both, Internet and Mobile Communication on Aircraft (MCA) service should be permitted as In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) in the Indian airspace,” the regulator had said in its recommendations on ‘In-Flight Connectivity’ (IFC).

“The operation of MCA services should be permitted with minimum height restriction of 3000 meters in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks,” TRAI added.

”The setting up of the Ombudsman for the Telecom sector is a great milestone however, one will have to see how the implementation will take place given there are 100 crores plus users. The approval for Ease of Doing Business too reflect the DoT’s strong resolve to revolutionize and streamline the Telecommunication services in India. The PCO wifi very idea to provide last mile connectivity and bring financial and geographical inclusion offers a big opportunity to Telcos . However data pricing through Wi-fi is likely to reduce tariffs but the good news is that the Wi-fi will be chargeable which can be a very good opportunity to increase revenues,” said Hemant Joshi, Partner, Leader, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Deloitte India.

“Further, inflight connectivity is a commendable move but what happens to noise levels in the plane and its impact on travellers remain to be seen and resolved. The Telecom commission is apparently silent on how the falling profits and huge debt of Telcos amounting to Rs 7 ,70 ,000 crores will be addressed so that the Telecom sector can bounce back to some amount of profitability in the near term. Over all, Telecom commission has done a great job by trying to address some of the pressing concerns of the sector. Lastly the commission is silent on net neutrality and issue of E and V band which is critical for 5G etc .These needs to be watched and a decision should to be taken on it sooner.”

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