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By Newsgram Staff Writer

The government is finally going to announce WiFi based Internet connections on flights, meeting a longstanding demand of both airlines and passengers, reported an English newspaper today.

A senior civil aviation ministry official said his ministry has approached the department of telecommunications (DoT) with the proposal and will make a formal announcement soon. “The DoT has already said (informally) the proposal is possible to implement,” quoted Economic Times.

DoT allots spectrum, or airwaves, capacity to operators to provide telecom and broadband services. In India, only foreign airlines such as Emirates, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines offer Internet connectivity on international flights.

Like the use of mobile phones onboard even in flight mode, Wi-Fi and other technologies require regulatory clearances. Airlines typically provide Wi-Fi services by installing on board planes a server that hooks up with a ground-based mobile broadband network or links to satellites.

The number of commercial airplanes globally with Wi-Fi, cell service or both is expected to more than triple over the next 10 years to 14,000, with Asia spawning most of the growth, according to IHS, a research firm.

For airlines, desperate for new sources of revenue because of their wafer-thin margins, Wi-Fi will be a possibly lucrative service to sell. But globally, the service hasn’t been a huge money spinner for airlines because equipping fleets with Wi-Fi, especially via satellites, is costly and few carriers have found a profitable way to cover costs.


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