Reliance Jio has partnered with several international airlines to provide in-flight mobile services. The company’s partner airlines include Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Euro Wings, Lufthansa, Malindo Air, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, and Alitalia.

Reliance Jio has posted the following information on the Jio website.

  1. Jio Inflight service allows you to stay connected in the flight at above 20,000 feet. One has to recharge with Jio prepaid in-flight communication Packs before boarding the flight.
  2. Customers with active In-flight connectivity (IFC) Packs, will be able to use data, outgoing voice calls and SMS (wherever applicable) as per the pack entitlement quota available.
  3. Incoming calls are not allowed. You will need to disable Wi-Fi connectivity to use mobile data. As a courtesy to fellow passengers, please keep your phone on vibrate.
  4. The network speed of In-Flight connectivity is dependent on the in-flight network operators (OnAir or AeroMobile) and the regulations governing air travel. The in-flight network operators are continually reviewing and innovating their services to provide a better surfing experience for the customers.
  5. No, as per regulation In-Flight Communication (IFC) services are currently not available while you are in Indian Air Space.

    The company offers plans ranging from Rs 499 to Rs 999 with one (1) day validity. None of the plans can be clubbed with the standard International roaming of Jio mobiles. Also, the data bandwidth is minimal; hence the maximum data one can uses with the Rs 999 plan is 1 GB.
Pack PriceRs. 499Rs. 699Rs. 999
Pack DetailsData- 250 MB
Outgoing Calls
100 Mins
SMS- 100
Data- 500 MB
Outgoing Calls
100 Mins
SMS- 100
Date- 1 GB
Outgoing Calls
100 Mins
SMS- 100
Validity1 Day1 Day1 Day
Table 1: Jio In-flight Package details

Target Traveller Segment

The company aims these plans at business travellers who want to remain connected during the flight. Such users will have to moderate the data usage as 1 GB dries up very fast with the data-hungry apps. Also, all background apps running on one’s mobile will need to be closed.

Reliance Jio has become the second Indian company to offer in-flight mobile services. Tata group firm Nelco has already started providing in-flight mobile services in Vistara Airlines on the Delhi-London route.
What is In-flight Mobile Service
The in-flight service allows passengers to use their mobile phones to communicate while travelling on a flight. Onboard communication is routed to a satellite antenna installed on the top of the aircraft. The satellite communication network is connected to the ground mobile network from where the call is switched as a regular mobile call or mobile data service.

Therefore, as is evident, the onboard connectivity provider such as AeroMobile or OnAir would have made inter-connectivity arrangements with mobile service providers of several countries.

Figure 1: How Onboard Networks Work – © AeroMobile

The system is always under the control of the cabin crew and can be regulated. For more information please visit the AeroMobile Website.

Country-Specific Regulations
All countries do not permit onboard mobile services. The most significant opposition to this technology comes from the US. According to Wikipedia, The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently prohibits the use of mobile phones aboard any aircraft in flight. The US cites technical reasons for the denial of permission. Since 2008, the United Kingdom allowed its usage of in-flight mobile technology. Chinese carriers are also entitled to operate the system since 2018.
On 19 January 2018, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) permitted the use of mobile phones and internet access through Wi-Fi onboard all flights operating in Indian airspace. There would be restrictions of a minimum aircraft altitude. In India, passengers are permitted to make mobile phone calls when the aircraft is at an altitude of over 9,800 ft.
The Jio In-flight connect system will operate at an altitude of more than 20,000 feet. These restrictions are imposed by each country mostly to ensure compatibility with their terrestrial mobile networks.
So, for an in-flight system to be work all through your flight, all over-flying countries have to accord individual permission.

Social Resistance to In-flight Phones
Apart from Government policies and technology limitations, there also appears to be resistance from the travelling public. One may not like to be continually disturbed by a mobile-addicted talkative person. Or someone is clattering away on a laptop. When the cabin lights are dimmed, even the fluorescence glow of a monitor screen can be very distracting. As this technology gets further deployed, social norms will have to be defined and enforced.

Also Read:
Indian Aviation Industry in COVID-19: A Long Runway Before Take Off
Derailed Indian Railways: Privatisation of Indian Railways is dangerous to Economy & Employment

Author

Ajay Prakash, is an IT veteran of over 40 years. During his career he implement systems for satellite weather monitoring and data dissemination for air traffic control. He has a passion for travel & aviation. As he puts it– “Every destination has a journey”.

4 Comments

  1. Rakesh Sharma Reply

    Pros- Good advancement of technology
    Cons- Challenge for co passengers as it would be very disturbing for them
    Suggestion- Seat allocation can be done in dedicated zone based on option to use this facility of being connected to the ground throughout the flight. This would take care of social resistance. ✌️

    • Ajay Prakash Reply

      Rakesh Sharma – quite a relevant suggestion. Disturbance to co-passengers is the primary concern.

  2. Muthu kumar Reply

    What effect will this have on the on-board avionics and Will there be connectivity during takeoff and landing.

    • Ajay Prakash Reply

      Muthu Kumar – This system will be operational only above 20,000 ft, that is cruising altitudes. Therefore, there will be no affect on avionics during take-off and landing as it be switched off.

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