CRA Approves Gate-to-Gate Internet Connectivity On-board Aircraft

Date: 
Monday, April 16, 2018

In light of the growth of ‘gate-to-gate connectivity’ worldwide, the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has approved the provision of Internet service onboard aircraft at all altitudes, after it was approved only when the aircraft is flying at, at least, 3000 meters above sea level.

This follows responses from service providers, key stakeholders and other interested parties to a public consultation 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 the State of Qatar is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) 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.

However, to avoid interference to aircraft operations or terrestrial public mobile services, restriction still remains on the on-board use of mobile voice calls, SMS and mobile data when the aircraft is flying below 3000 meters above sea level.

“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,” said H.E. the Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti.

“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. 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” said H.E. Mohammed Ali Al-Mannai, President of CRA.

The amended Class License, along with the responses from service providers, key stakeholders and other interested parties to the public consultation, are available on CRA’s website.