By Dennis Jones
If you’ve flown the highly-trafficked air-routes between Europe and South East Asia, there’s a good chance you’ve crossed Indian airspace. Of course, the same applies for those who’ve flown internationally out of or into India. You might have noticed one of the big reasons that flying over Indian airspace is so different than flying over most other technologically advanced countries. And that’s the fact that India bans inflight Wi-Fi on commercial aircraft in its airspace.
If you’re not a frequent flyer, this inflight ban might come as something of a shock. After all, inflight Wi-Fi is a big deal and only getting bigger. For instance, 71 percent of (ASMs) available seat miles on U.S. airlines have inflight Wi-Fi. Globally, ASMs aren’t quite as saturated with onboard Wi-Fi as they are in the U.S., but flyers now have the opportunity to connect inflight on more than a third of all ASMs. And that percentage will only increase as international airlines roll out more inflight Wi-Fi. So it’s indeed striking that a major technological power like India would actually prohibit the use of onboard Wi-Fi in its airspace.
Interestingly, the Indian government has had this policy on the books for some time now. It’s struck such a hard line on inflight Wi-Fi that the Government actually made international headlines back in August when it promised to lift its ban on onboard Wi-Fi.
Now, the Government is reneging on that planned reform, citing ongoing security concerns as the reason. Those concerns, of course, don’t really hold water, as most of the world’s aviation regulatory bodies have deemed onboard Wi-Fi safe, the U.S.’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) foremost among them. But Indian regulators remain wary, despite pressure from international and domestic carriers.