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Tata’s Nelco working on new tariff plans for in-flight connectivity

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Tata's Nelco working on new tariff plans for in-flight connectivity

Frequent flyers may soon have to shell out extra cash to surf the internet in flight or use WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tata group company is working on new tariff plans for its ‘in-flight connectivity’ or IFC services.

“Tariff plans are still a work in progress, and once the domestic market opens up for IFC, there will be different models which will come up… some will be built into the price of a ticket, while some will be charged separately,” Nelco managing director PJ Nath told ET.

Nelco, he said, is in talks on pricing strategy with stakeholders. “Tariff will vary from one carrier to another in terms of how they want to start the service in the country,” he said. At present, Nelco is the only company offering IFC services nationally, he added.

Following the Covid outbreak last year, the aviation sector had taken a jolt with flight operators staying cautious, but Nelco expects a business revival of sorts soon with the pandemic situation easing somewhat coupled with the step up in vaccinations.

“The aviation sector has not done well due to Covid, and so IFC has not been a priority for airlines… but it will definitely take off as staying connected always is a way of life today,” Nath said.

In September 2019, Nelco had entered the maritime communications services space after receiving an In-Flight & Maritime Communications (IFMC) licence.

The Nelco MD said the IFMC permit offers both voice and data communications services but each airline will ultimately decide what it wishes to offer in flight. “Globally, people don’t do much of voice calls in flight but use data services mostly… we will offer whatever the customer wants,” Nath said.

Nelco, on its part, is working with Panasonic Avionics to offer IFC services in India. Japan’s Panasonic commands nearly 30% of the IFC market worldwide and works closely with airlines such as Emirates and British Airways.

Nelco maintains a gateway in Mumbai, and operates two teleports located in Mumbai and Dehradun.

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