On Monday, February 2, 2020, the Government of India finally permits airlines operating in India to provide Wi-Fi services in-flight to passengers. The Pilot will “permit of the access of Internet services to the passengers on board.”
As per the official statement, the services will be available for an aircraft in flight, through Wi-Fi onboard for laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or aeroplane mode.
The Telecom Commission had already permitted in-flight connectivity of internet and mobile communications on aircraft in Indian airspace in the year 2018.
THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND THE SERVICE:
In-Flight connectivity systems work on two kinds of technologies; One, an onboard antenna whose function is to pick up signals from the nearest tower on the ground, and unless the aircraft is flying over an ample space with no towers or no connectivity so that the connection remains seamless.
Another method is that it is based on satellites functioning, i.e., satellites will be used to make connections with the ground stations in the same way that satellites work for TV signals in which signals are transmitted for connectivity.
The Data is then transmitted to a personal electronic device via an onboard router, whose function is to connect it to the plane’s antenna. The antenna then transmits the signals, via the help of satellites, to a ground station, which redirects the traffic to a billing server that calculates the data consumption—finally connected to the intercepting servers, and to the World Wide Web.
Once you onboard the flight and activated the flight mode, the plane’s antenna will link to terrestrial Internet services provided by telecom service providers; when the aircraft has risen to 3,000 m height, the antenna will switch to satellite-based services automatically. This way, the Wi-Fi services will be provided to the passengers.
The initial cost of installing antennae on aircraft will be taken care of by the airlines itself. The other additional costs will be taken care of by the passengers in ticket pricing. Apart from the tools, the airlines will have to bear additional fuel costs, plus the extra weight and drag aircraft will incur due to the antenna.
The internet might be cheap on terrestrial altitudes, but the internet in the clouds is not going to be reasonable. Some airlines offer onboard Wi-Fi service by giving a small volume of free internet before asking the customer to buy an internet pack. Some others provide limited or unlimited Internet in Business, and First class as the costs of these classes itself covers the costs expensively.
Price of the plans will vary as they will include various factors like volume-based and time-based and others.