Wi-Fi over the skies of India will remain a pipe-dream for now. In August, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajeev Chaubey had stated that we can expect to see in-flight Wi-Fi “in the next 10 days.” It’s now December.
A report on The Wall Street Journal reveals that the plans for in-flight Wi-Fi in India will remain banned, pending approval from the “communications ministry.” The Home Ministry has reportedly been opposed to the plan, citing security concerns.
As it stands today, any commercial passenger aircraft is required to disable in-flight Wi-Fi access when flying over Indian airspace. This includes international flights.
As Mashable points out, airlines such as Jet Airways already have approval from the Federal Aviation Authority and other regulatory bodies. Even our neighbours, Pakistan and China included, already allow in-flight Wi-Fi.
International flight safety norms are quite stringent and it’s hard to see what’s worrying the Home Ministry so. Mashable also adds that aviation technology specialists have dismissed these security concerns as “spurious”.
In fact, one can easily make the case that free Wi-Fi at railway stations is a far greater cause for concern than in-flight Wi-Fi in a closed, isolated environment 36,000 feet above the ground.
With this push for Digital India, demonetisation pushing the country to digital transactions and myriad such future-looking plans, it’s hard to believe that the fastest, most modern system of transportation is still held back in such a way.