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How will in-flight WiFi work?

Topics Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

How will in-flight WiFi work?

What to study?

For Prelims: How does WiFi work? How in- flight WiFi works?

For Mains: Need for, benefits and concerns associated.

Context: The government has permitted airlines operating in India to provide in-flight WiFi services to passengers. 

Previously, the Telecom Commission had given its green signal to in-flight connectivity of Internet and mobile communications on aircraft in Indian airspace in 2018.

Who can permit?

The pilot may permit the access of Internet services by passengers on board an aircraft in flight, through Wi-Fi on board, when laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode.

How in- flight connectivity works?

In-flight connectivity systems use two kinds of technologies– terrestrial and satellite internet services.

  1. Once flight mode is activated, the plane’s antenna will link to terrestrial Internet services provided by telecom service providers.
  2. Then, when the aircraft has climbed to 3,000 m, the antenna will switch to satellite-based services.

This way, there will be no break in Internet services to passengers, and cross-interference between terrestrial and satellite networks will be avoided.

Challenges ahead:

  1. Airlines will have to bear the initial cost of installing antennae on aircraft. So, the additional cost could find a way into ticket prices.
  2. Apart from the equipment, airlines will have to bear additional fuel costs, given the extra weight and drag aircraft will face due to the antenna.
  3. Technology and laws allow calls to be made from aircraft, but many airlines do not want noisy cabins.


  1. Globally, more than 30 airlines allow voice calls and internet access during flights. This facility will now will help Indian airlines compete with foreign carriers.
  2. Business travellers greatly value these services as they can continue their work commitments without any deterrence.
  3. Other travellers can be in touch with their near and dear ones even during the flight.
Insta link:
Prelims link:
1.       How WiFi works?
2.       How internet works and is regulated?
3.       How signals are transmitted from satellites to ground stations?
Mains link:
How in- flight internet connectivity works? What are it’s Pros and Cons?



Sources: Indian Express.