Fear of cyber attacks delay wifi in Indian skies

DELHI: The fear of cyber attacks on planes is holding back the Indian government from allowing Wi-Fi on board aircraft, however, private players say the security framework sought by authorities is neither impossible nor unusual.

This explains why a top officer at the civil aviation ministry, which mooted the proposal, recently expressed his frustration over the delay by the home ministry in giving its nod and compared India with North Korea, reports PTI.

“India is perhaps the only country other than North Korea, which does not allow in-flight Wi-Fi services. Even international airlines flying over India have to switch off Wi-Fi when they travel over India…security agencies are still not convinced,” he said.

Before airlines in India can be permitted to provide Wi-Fi, the pre-requisite laid down by the government is for intercept capability to which Indian authorities have end-to- end audit and control.

“From our perspective this is not very different from what we see at many jurisdictions where cyber security or use of information technology for malicious purpose is an area of concern. The Indian government has demanded a framework at par with international standards. These are solutions that are neither unseen nor unimplemented,” CEO, SITAONAIR, David Lavorel.

In order to get a first hand experience of how Wi-Fi is enabled on a plane, PTI recently travelled onboard Honeywell’s Connected Aircraft, which was in New Delhi last week as part of its world tour.

Since May this year it has travelled to Dallas, Mexico City, Panama City, Toronto, New York, London and Paris.

For in-flight Wi-Fi, Honeywell’s satellite communications hardware is fitted on the aircraft so it can receive true broadband class connectivity via Inmarsat satellites, whose Global Xpress Service is powered by three Ka-band satellites and claim to provide four times the bandwidth available through Ku-band.


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