Wi-Fi and Mobile Communication Service Onboard

Wi-Fi and Mobile Communication Service Onboard
January 20
05:44 2018

by Melissa

Gooogle News Team

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is planning to issue regulations pertaining to in-flight connectivity (IFC) shortly after 31st March, 2018. This means that Indian fliers will be able to access internet while onboard an aircraft.


As of now, aircrafts have to switch-off IFC services onboard as they enter Indian airspace due to absence of certification. The growing demand for IFC services, which was fast becoming a deciding factor in business class flier selecting an airline.

As per the increasing interest and demand for broadband connectivity (both voice and data) to passengers on board a flight, during August,2017 the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), has requested Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to furnish its recommendations to introduce In-Flight connectivity (IFC) for voice, data and Video services over Indian airspace.


India is the world’s third-largest domestic and overall civil aviation market. The number of air passengers grew 16.3% annually from 1.4 million in 2000–01 to 135 million in 2015-16, both domestic and international. The market is estimated to have 800 aircraft by 2020.  Boeing projected India’s demand for aircraft to touch 1,740 or 4.3% of global volume, valued at $240 billion, over the next 20 years in India. In coming days almost all these aircrafts will offer both Wi-Fi and cellular options.


On a study it is observed that the telecom services can be provided in the Aircraft travelling at 800 Km per hour and 10,000 meters in the sky due to satellite-enabled connectivity and technologies have developed to provide such access.


Although in-flight Wi-Fi hasn’t been available for very long, global passenger survey reveals that 80% of the passengers would use Wi-Fi if offered on board a flight.


The launch of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) is expected to be a game-changer for the in-flight connectivity market. HTS systems will not only increase data speeds to the plane compared to regular satellite systems, but will also significantly lower costs.


Although Wi-Fi has become common on aircrafts, demand for Mobile Communication services on board Aircraft (MCA) has gone up in recent time too. Mobile devices typically connect to a wireless network through the nearest cell site that can serve the device. As the distance between the devices and cell sites increases, signals are attenuated by terrain and obstacles such as buildings, and blocked by the curvature of the earth.


As of now, an airborne picocell – a very small low power mobile base station; and a network control unit (NCU) that stops onboard phones connecting with land-based networks. The third element of the MCA set-up is a satellite link connecting the aircraft to public phone networks on the ground.


With the advancement in the technology, and after installation of Special equipment – Mobile Communication Services on board Aircraft (MCA) system, it will be possible to permit the use of mobile phones on board. Internationally, these services have successfully been operated on aircrafts.


An uncontrolled wireless device on an airborne aircraft could potentially cause co-channel interference at multiple cell sites. This is because, even though the airborne wireless signal becomes weaker with increasing height above the ground, unlike the terrestrial case, it is not attenuated by terrain and obstacles, and it is not affected by the curvature of the earth. Thus, the signal from an airborne handset with an unobstructed line of sight may remain sufficiently strong as the device attempts to access multiple terrestrial Sites.

When a mobile satellite service in which mobile earth stations are located on board aircraft is defined as aeronautical mobile-satellite service (AMSS) combined with on-board access technology (Wi-Fi or mobile networks), AMSSs allow passengers to have telecom connectivity. This will facilitate the users on board aircraft using their own data equipment or one provided by the airline.  The onboard access technology can be Wi-Fi to access Internet, e-mail, internal corporate networks on board aircraft. The access technology can be mobile network which will allow voice and text communications also.


The TRAI Chairman R S Sharma stated that once TRAI puts out the rules governing IFC, airline carriers operating in India can set up required infrastructure and deliver internet and other connectivity services to their passengers. Depending upon the available technology, IFC services are categorized in two kinds – internet services through onboard Wi-Fi; and Mobile Communication services on board Aircraft (MCA).





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