Domestic flights in India can now operate with inflight internet service active.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) updated its policies in recent weeks, opening up the option for service on domestic routes. Following publication of the policy Vistara activated the service on its A321neo aircraft.
Vistara’s in-flight internet service is delivered via a partnership between Panasonic Avionics and Nelco, with the latter providing the local integration services necessary for Indian airlines to get online.
A potential limit on usage
One interesting quirk in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)’s guidance is that it mandates that all devices “shall be kept in non-transmitting mode (commonly referred to as Flight/Airplane Mode)” so long as the aircraft doors are closed. This is sufficient for WiFi usage (though typically requires reactivation of the WiFi radio on the device) but limits access to systems based on a GSM microcell on board. The latter is a technology most commonly installed on planes by AeroMobile, a subsidiary of Panasonic Avionics.
Usage of that service varies widely by market, with some regions seeing significantly higher adoption rates than the typical WiFi usage. But the data rates can be very expensive depending on roaming agreements with local carriers. India’s Jio signed an agreement with AeroMobile for roaming access on to its network. That the local planes appear excluded, at least for now, from using that service is a special sort of irony.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.