New Delhi, Feb 26 (PTI) Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, today said it has joined a global alliance which will use satellite technology to offer uninterrupted, high-speed internet connectivity to mobile users when they are in a flight. Also Read - BarcaGate Scandal Update: Former President Josep Maria Bartomeu Released After Arrest

While in-flight internet access through Wi-Fi is allowed in several countries, it was only last month that telecom regulator Trai recommended allowing data connectivity on domestic and international flights in India. Also Read - 'Barcelona Struggles Not my Problem' - Jean-Clair Todibo Wants Permanent Transfer

Trai recommendation to the government was also to allow making phone calls once an aircraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 meters. Also Read - La Liga Points Table: Real Madrid Drop 2 Vital Points Against Real Sociedad Despite Vinicius Junior Strike; Atletico Madrid Ahead in Title Race

“Airtel has joined the Seamless Alliance which will usher in a new era of open innovation for mobile operators and airlines by empowering mobile operators to extend their services into airline cabins,” the company said in a statement.

The global consortium, which has OneWeb, Airbus, Delta and Sprint among its founding members, will work towards leveraging satellite technology to offer high-speed data connectivity to mobile users even when they are up in the air, it added.

The global initiative announced today in Barcelona (where the Mobile World Congress 2018 is currently on) will also look at bringing into its fold other industry operators beyond the five founding members.

Together, these members hope to “eliminate the immense costs and hurdles commonly associated with acquisition, installation, and operation of data access infrastructure”. This will be done by streamlining system integration and certification, providing open specifications for interoperability, increasing accessibility for passengers, and enabling simple and integrated billing, Airtel said.

Trai had in its recommendation last month provided for a mechanism for the lawful interception and monitoring of Wi-Fi in aircraft cabins to ensure safety.

The Department of Telecommunications will issue the final policy after reviewing the recommendation.

The Airtel statement did not specify as to when the services will be commercially launched in India.

“We are delighted to be a founding member of this innovative technology platform to bring seamless connectivity to customers in the true sense,” Gopal Vittal, CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said.

Over 370 million mobile customers across Airtel’s global network will be able to enjoy uninterrupted access to high-speed data services even while they are in-flight, he added. “We look forward to collaborating with all partner members to ensure this platform goes live at the earliest,” Vittal said.

Airtel is the third largest mobile operator in the world with operations in 16 countries across Asia and Africa. PTI MBI SA SA

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.