India finally lifts airspace Wi-Fi ban

written by Adam Thorn | March 3, 2020

The Indian Civil Aviation Ministry on Monday announced it would lift a Wi-Fi ban over its airspace.

Previously, airlines would have to switch off the internet immediately before flying over the country.

However, the new regulations still give the final say on internet use to each flight’s “pilot in command”. It’s not clear when the new rules come into effect.

Qantas's internet WiFi trial (Qantas)

A notification in India’s industry gazette and obtained by The Economic Times read, “The pilot-in-command may permit the access of internet services by passengers on board an aircraft through Wi-Fi on board when laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode.

“Provided that the director general shall certify the aircraft for usage of internet in flight through Wi-Fi on board subject to procedures as specified in this behalf.”

Carriers currently providing Wi-Fi now include AirAsia, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

There are two major ways for an internet signal to reach an aircraft.

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The first is via ground-based mobile broadband towers, while the second uses satellite technology – these are the same satellites used for weather forecasting and television signals.

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