DoT Regulations to be observed by the Maritime Approved Telecommunication Companies

  • October 21, 2022
  • Dushyant Sharma
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Maritime Approval or Maritime License is issued to certain Telecom Companies that tend to provide in-flight and/or in-ship internet connectivity. Every Maritime Approved Telcos is regulated per the In-Flight and Maritime Connectivity rules of 2018. Various domestic and international airlines nowadays provide in-flight internet connectivity to their passengers. But such facilities are also available for the Cargos or Hercules.

The Department of Telecommunications issues the Maritime Approval license to such Telecos. The DoT also issues some of the regulations for the Maritime-approved Telecom Companies to function smoothly, effectively and as per the compliances of the DoT. Such compliance is equally applicable to Indian Airlines, Indian Ships, Foreign Airlines, and Foreign Ships for offering IFMC services. This article details the regulations issued by the Department of Telecommunications for In-Flight and Maritime Connectivity (IFMC).

DoT Regulations for the IFMC Services

Aircraft Eligibility

The IFLC regulations extend to the following aircraft:

  • Commercial jets
  • Executive aircraft
  • Personal yachts

But for any modification(s) to an IFMC-licensed aircraft registered in India, the aircraft carrier must gain approval from the DGCA, i.e., the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Separate Infrastructure for the IFMC

The Telecom Company must build a separate infrastructure for the IFMC and navigation system in their aircraft or ships to avoid signal interference. Also, the IFMC must have exclusive control of the captain of the aircraft/ship to enable internet services. By this, they can turn off such network services during an emergency.

Satellite System Service Provision

If the Telecom Company uses a satellite system to provide IFMC services, then it must pass a telegraph message through the satellite earth station of the country. The Telco must interconnect the Satellite Gateway Earth Stations with the NLD, Access Service, or ISP licensee's network for further service delivery.


DoT Regulations for Satellite systems for IFMC service provisions

Satellite Usage Provision

The DoT permits the IFMC service provider to use the Indian Satellite System or the Foreign Satellite System in their capacity. But the Department of Space must authorize these satellite systems. Also, the satellite system must adopt spectrum neutral approach in providing Maritime license services.

Radio Spectrum Usage

The Maritime License holder or the Partnering Licensee must acquire the rights to use the required radio spectrum, with the WPC assigning the frequency to them. They must also obtain the SACFA clearance as well as the other wireless operating licenses for satellite gateway earth stations.

Inspection and Monitoring

The DoT possesses the right to inspect as well as monitor the onboard radio stations and the satellite gateway earth stations which ensures compliance within the technical parameters.

Aircraft Earth Station

The Aircraft Earth Station or Earth Motion Station established by an IFMC licensee to provide the IFMC services must conform to the set standards by the following International standardization bodies:

  • International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
  • European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • International Fora: Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)

Direct-Air-to-Ground Communications

The Telecom Company must permit the IFMC communication systems using the DA2GC, i.e., the Direct-Air-to-Ground Communications, to use for Flight Connectivity. But they must comply with the standards the above-mentioned international bodies set.


Maritime Interception and Monitoring Guidelines

Required IT Arrangement

The surveillance authority has every right to monitor as well as intercept the telegraph message passing through the required IFMC network. The Telcos must arrange the hardware and software required for lawful interception and monitoring of telegraph messages for the IFMC service provider. It must be arranged either by the company or through its partnering licensee. It shall happen at the premises of the Central and the State Government's designated authorities.

Centralized Monitoring System

To establish connectivity to a Centralized Monitoring System, the Maritime Approval Certificate holder must, at its own cost, arrange, either itself or through a partnering licensee, dimensioned hardware, bandwidth and dark fibre. They must arrange for such amenities upto a designated point as the DoT requires.

Written Intimation to the DoT

The IFMC licensee must arrange to monitor telegraph messages by itself or its partnering licensee. He must commence any service permitted under such IFMC rules only after giving a written intimation to the Telecom Authority. Afterwards, the Model Approval Company‘s monitoring facilities will demonstrate to the DoT within ninety days of such intimation.

DoT Restrictions on Aircraft Services

The Maritime Approval Certificate holder must provide the IFMC services in the aircraft only at least 3000 meters above in the Indian airspace. The Maritime-approved airline must avoid interference with other IFMC network services with the terrestrial mobile networks. It must also make internet services available to travellers through Wi-Fi in the aircraft or ship when they are ready to use the service.

Maritime Approval Certification Fee

The total certification fee of a Maritime license holder is a cumulative effect of the following charges:

  • Satellite bandwidth charges
  • Licensing fees
  • Spectrum charges
  • Other charges, as required by the DoT

In addition, the IFMC provider must pay an annual licensing fee of one rupee to the Telecom Authority through the Bharatkosh app.

Furthermore, the revenue jointly earned by the Telcos and the partnering licensee from IFMC service provisions must be included in the gross revenue of the IFMC licensee for licensing fees and SUCs (Spectrum Usage Charges).


Can a Maritime License be revoked?

The Telecom Authority can revoke the required authorization, if necessary, or be practical to do so for the following causes:

  • In the interest of the general public 
  • In the interest of the Security of the State or Nation
  • In case of violation of any provisions of the IFMC rules
  • In case of Default in payment of any consideration payable

The Telecom Authority must issue a written notice of twenty one days to the Maritime Approval Certificate holder before any revocation. The Authority will make any such revocations effective from the sixty-first calendar day of its issuance date. But the DoT must not be responsible for any of the loss which can arise out of such maritime license revocation.



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Dushyant Sharma
Author: Dushyant Sharma

Hey there, I'm Dushyant Sharma. With the extensive knowledge I've gained in past 8 years, I have been creating content on various subjects such as banking, insurance, telecom, and all the important registration and licensing processes for various companies. I'm here to help everyone with my expertise in these areas through my articles.

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