News Excerpt
The central government has recently permitted airlines operating in India to provide in-flight Wi-Fi services to passengers.

•    The Digital Communications Commission (Erstwhile Telecom Commission) had given its green signal to in-flight connectivity of Internet and mobile communications on aircraft in Indian airspace in 2018.
•    State-owned telecom service provider Bharatiya Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) had earlier received licence from the Department of Telecommunications to provide Internet and mobile services on flights.
•    The DoT had notified its rules earlier allowing airlines flying within and transiting through India to provide Internet and voice services on mobile phones along with an Indian telecom operator or licencee. So far, SpiceJet has announced that it will offer Internet access to passengers. Vistara has evinced interest in this service.
•    According to the rules, passengers can make phone calls or use Internet when a flight is at a minimum height of 3,000 m in Indian airspace to avoid interference with terrestrial mobile networks.

Two systems of connectivity for inflight Wi-Fi - Air-to-ground and satellite.
Air-to-ground system    Satellite based Wi-Fi system
    Air-to-ground system is a ground based system that works similar to mobile data network on cell phones. There are towers that project signals upwards unlike mobile data towers that projects downwards. Antennae fitted beneath the airplanes receive signals from these towers and send them to an on-board server. The server has a modem that converts these signals, thereby providing WiFi to passengers. These towers are connected to operation centres run by service providers.
    The air-to-ground system works seamlessly, unless the airplane is flying over a space with no towers. In that case, satellite Wi-Fi systems can be utilised.
        In Satellite based Wi-Fi system, antennae are fitted on the top of airplanes. Antennae receive signals from satellites orbiting the earth. The antennae need to constantly adjust their position to receive signals as both the satellite and the airplane are constantly moving. These satellites are linked to ground stations that are connected to operation centres run by service providers.

    The main captain will have the authority to switch on or switch off the Wi-Fi in flights, and the captain will be required to follow certain guidelines on this matter. For example, Wi-Fi would be switched on only when the plane is at the cruising speed. During take-off or landing, it will not be available. Also, if the weather is not clear, chances are that the captain will not turn on Wi-Fi.
    Airlines will have to bear the initial cost of installing antennae on aircraft. Some airlines have said it would be easier to have the equipment installed on their new aircraft rather than taking planes out of service for retrofitting. The additional cost could find a way into ticket prices.
    In general, Wi-Fi on a plane is slower than on the ground — even though this is changing with newer technologies. Technology and laws allow calls to be made from aircraft, but many airlines do not want noisy cabins.

In-flight internet access is getting popular day by day. Government recently permitting airlines operating in India to provide in-flight Wi-Fi services to passengers will provide various benefits. Passengers will be able to check their messages, email via laptop or mobile phone, can enjoy music or read via e-reader, tablets. Thus, despite it is expected that there will be hike in ticket prices and slow speed, passengers would prefer to fly with an airline offering inflight connectivity.