Intelsat brings inflight WiFi online in India

Passengers fly to, from, or over India can now stay online if their aircraft carries the Intelsat 2Ku inflight WiFi system. Thanks to government approvals and a partnership with Nelco, India’s leading satellite communications provider, Intelsat can enable its services across the country.

In addition to expanding our service coverage area for current customer airlines, our agreement with Nelco opens the possibility for Intelsat to serve India’s domestic airlines. This is a fast-growing airline market, and there is considerable untapped potential for IFC growth. – Jeff Sare, president of Commercial Aviation at Intelsat

The most immediate impact of this deal is that airlines with existing 2Ku installs can remain online while overflying India, or on flights to and from the country. The access is available effective immediately.

It also opens up the opportunity for Intelsat to sell services to Indian airlines, though that has proven something of a fraught process over the years. Several airlines and suppliers have announced deals, but slow progress from regulators, followed by financial instability at the airlines, generally stymied those plans. Vistara currently offers inflight internet on its 787 and A321neo fleets.

India maintains strict control over communications systems, including satellite services. Even as the government has slowly relaxed its rules over the years, it has maintained restrictions on service providers, which satellites can be used, and how the traffic from those connections must be routed to allow for monitoring by the government.

As part of the partnership Nelco helps manage traffic across Intelsat’s IS-33e satellite. IS-33e is approved by Indian government regulators, allowing for coverage with no interruptions or blackout zones.

Nelco also uses IS-33e to market its own inflight connectivity solutions to Indian airlines.

More on the long and winding road to inflight internet in India:

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.