Airtel Arm Gets Licence for Inflight and Maritime Broadband Services

The Department of Telecommunications has issued a 10-year licence to Bharti Airtel subsidiary Indo Teleports to provide inflight and maritime connectivity and broadband services using satellite systems, potentially helping the telecom operator develop new revenue streams.

“Indo Teleports is permitted to provide IFMC service as per licences held by its parenting licensee(s), in accordance to Flight & Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018,” the DoT said in a notification, dated April 3.

DoT though said all foreign personnel likely to be engaged by Indo Teleports for installation, operation and maintenance of IFMC service will need security clearance from the home ministry before deployment. Indo Teleports sets up and operates hubs for TV broadcasters to beam their channels to satellites for transmission. The company, formerly Bharti Teleports, was floated in 2008.

“Delivery of inflight calling and data services will help Airtel prise open new revenue streams, especially at a time when data consumption is on the rise,” a senior Bharti executive said.

Through the licence, the company will be able to offer calling and internet connectivity on ships with the IFMC permit, although the company is likely to initially focus on airlines, both domestic and foreign.

In February, Hughes Communications India, a VSAT service provider, became the first company in India to get a permit from DoT to offer connectivity and data services on airlines and ships.

Last month, Tatanet Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nelco, and recently, state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam too have bagged licences to operate IFMC services.

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