Hughes Gets India’s First In-Flight Connectivity License

VSAT service provider Hughes Communications became the first company in India to get license to offer in-flight connectivity. The company this morning informed that Department of Telecommunications or DoT has granted it the Flight and Maritime License or FMC.

The license the Hughes got is valid for 10 years and allows the firm to offer internet and broadband services in Indian and foreign commercial flights and ships operating within Indian territory.

The firm said it has already set up a base mobility platform and is in discussion with partners to enhance the services in India.

“HCIL is proud to be the first company to receive the Flight and Maritime Connectivity license in India, which is a natural extension of having been at the forefront of offering breakthrough technologies and services over the past two decades”, said Partho Banerjee, President & Managing Director at Hughes Communications India Ltd.

“We stand ready operationally to initiate high quality broadband services for both airlines and maritime operators, including having the availability of ubiquitous satellite coverage across Indian airspace and territorial waters. We would also like to compliment the regulatory authorities for a speedy grant of license and a positive intent towards the entire policy framework, which promises to herald a new era of communications for India.”

The in-flight connectivity license has been granted for a period of 10 years, and Hughes, like typical telecom operators, will pay spectrum charges based on revenue earned from providing these services, which can be delivered using both satellites and telecom networks on the ground. HCIL will provide FMC services in India operating over domestic and foreign satellites permitted by the Department of Space.

Since the policy was first published by regulatory authorities in mid-December 2018, it has generated a lot of interest from India’s maritime and airline industries.  According to Euroconsult, over 23,000 commercial aircraft will offer in-flight connectivity to their passengers by 2027, up from 7,400 aircraft in 2017. Northern Sky Research’s Aeronautical SatCom Market’s 2017 report forecasts that by the end of 2019, broadband VSAT connectivity will be installed on one out of every three commercial passenger aircraft and will rise to two out of every three commercial passenger aircraft by the end of 2026. Driven by higher demand for broadband connectivity, this installed base will generate over US$32 billion in revenue over the next decade, as air travel continues its rise around the world.

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