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Indian Government not keen to allow Wi-Fi onboard flights anytime soon

Indian Government not keen to allow Wi-Fi onboard flights anytime soon
Indian Government not keen to allow in-flight Wi-Fi anytime soon

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While the rest of the world moves towards making Wi-Fi service standard on flights, India continues to prohibit passengers from using the service on flights operating in its airspace.

Even though authorities have been promising flyers Wi-Fi access onboard flights for a while now, the promise has not been fulfilled as the Indian government continues to ban the service on flights citing security reasons.

Apart from banning the use of mobile phones and internet on flights travelling to or from the country, even airlines offering Wi-Fi service to passengers have to switch off the facility when the enter the Indian airspace.

Back in August, the Indian government said that it was contemplating on allowing the use of Wi-Fi facilities on flights in the Indian airspace. Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey had even said that the decision was likely in as little as ten days.

Months passed, but there was no progress on that front.

Later, in November, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha informed the Rajya Sabha that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) moved a proposal to enable use of voice and video services through Wi-Fi onboard. The proposal for providing onboard Wi-Fi services involves amending the provisions under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Indian Telegraph Rules.

However, a Wall Street Journal report has now stated that despite calls from the industry, and certifications from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory bodies, the government will continue to ban Wi-Fi on civilian flights.

According to the report, a spokesman for Civil Aviation Secretary has said that “the aviation ministry supported changing the law, but that approval was needed from the communications ministry.”

A spokesman for the communications ministry told the daily that “it was considering a proposal to change the rules.”

The Home Affairs ministry, meanwhile, said it hadn’t examined the change and refused to divulge the details about security concerns.

Apart from passengers, the uncertainty about the government’s stance has also caused issues for domestic carriers like Jet Airways, who announced the Wi-Fi facility earlier this year.

While experts remain confident about mid-air Wi-Fi being secure, the government reportedly continues to be haunted by the Kandahar hijack incident which took place 15 years back.

Meanwhile, most countries in the world, including neighbours China and Pakistan, allow in-flight connectivity in their respective airspace.

India, may well be the only country other than North Korea to prohibit onboard Wi-Fi despite having the second largest internet population, growing at well over 20 percent.

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