Qatar first in Middle East to approve gate-to-gate internet connectivity on-board aircraft

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Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has approved the provision of internet service onboard aircraft at all altitudes after being previously approved only when the aircraft is flying at least at 3,000 meters above sea level.

This follows responses from service providers, key stakeholders and other interested parties at public consultations conducted by the CRA between November 2017 and January 2018 regarding possible revisions to the Class License for the Provision of Public Telecommunications Services On-board Aircraft.

Approval by the CRA means that Qatar is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to approve the provision of gate-to-gate internet connectivity onboard aircraft.

The amended Class License, issued on April 15, 2018, authorizes operators of aircraft, registered in Qatar, to provide internet access from the point a passenger boards the aircraft until the passenger disembarks at their final destination.

Global technical standards now ensure that provision of internet service on-board aircraft is possible without causing harmful interference to either aircraft operations or terrestrial public mobile networks.

“Qatar has always had a high rate of technology adoption across a range of sectors in the region. In particular, we have ensured that there is an effective cooperation between the Transport and the Communication sectors as we are keen to develop these two main sectors that contribute to the Qatari economy growth, and to provide high quality services to the visitors and the people of Qatar,” Minister of Transport and Communications H E Jassim Saif Ahmed A Sulaiti said.

For his part, CRA President Mohammed Ali Al Mannai said that enabling gate-to-gate internet access on-board aircraft “is in line with CRA’s wider objective of ensuring that telecommunications consumers in Qatar have the latest and most innovative tools and technologies at their fingertips.”

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“We will continue ensuring the improvement of consumers’ experience and to develop regulatory frameworks that allow embracing new technologies and innovations in line with international best practices and standards, especially in consideration of the high level of technological adoption reached in Qatar” Al Mannai added.

To avoid interference to aircraft operations or terrestrial public mobile services, restriction still remain on the on-board use of mobile voice calls, SMS and mobile data when the aircraft is flying below 3,000 meters above sea level.

Published on 16 April 2018

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