New entrant Reliance Jio and existing telecom providers found themselves yet again on opposite sides. This time on the tech to be used for providing in-flight mobile and Internet services! In their discussions with the regulator, all telecom companies have supported the submission of data, voice, and video services in international and domestic flights crossing Indian airspace and those over Indian airspace, since this might offer an additional income source for the debt-burdened industry.
Present carriers Vodafone India and Bharti Airtel have recommended employing A2G (air to ground) communications, stating that it is better than expensive and bulky satellite-supported IFC (in-flight connectivity) solutions. Jio, on the other hand, has recommended employing satellite and LTE backhaul, apart from a devoted band for IFC services. “To prevent any possible meddling with global spectrum, the authority must suggest carving a devoted band of spectrum for IFC services. Within the aircraft, last-mile access must be offered via Wi-Fi,” the Mukesh Ambani-controlled telecom company claimed in its response to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India).
In-flight services for communication must be allowed with both satellite backhaul and LTE backhaul, Jio claimed. “In case of Indian airspace with satellite backhaul-enabled IFC, the earth station must be located in India.” On the other hand, leading providers comprising Bharti Airtel suggested employing A2G communications, calming it has major benefits over the satellite-enabled IFC since it has low equipment cost, low cost per Mb, quick installation time, low latency, and is more reasonably priced. The leading carrier claimed that A2G communications might have least effect on regulatory features such as legal interception, and can be offered over current licensed spectrum possessed by separate telecom companies.
The COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India), which stands for all providers, claimed that license charge of 8% of the regulated gross income must be decided for the IFC service supplier. The telecom community is, on the other hand, united on holding off regulatory interference to the least in business models and commercial arrangements between telecom companies and international IFC service suppliers. The views from rival telecom companies and other shareholders such as the ministry of international and domestic airlines and civil aviation came after TRAI rolled out a consultation document in September at the request of the department of telecom.
The regulator aims to suggest licensing conditions and terms for offering data, voice, and video services in-flight, apart from related problems such as and license fee and entry fee.