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Policy digest: No WiFi for Air India flights; tracking transfers; DDA & telecom billing

Air India will not be able to offer WiFi on its flights due to government regulations that prohibits use of WiFi and mobile connectivity during a flight, reports The Times of India. The company was reportedly in talks with in-flight WiFi service provider OnAir who informed the airline that none of the flights they offer the service to, could provide WiFi while flying over India.

Air India will now request both the home and telecom ministry to lift this ban on WiFi in flights. The regulations as of now allows use of electronics equipment only when the flight is in cruise phase. Passengers need to turn off their devices during take-off and landing. No, putting the device in airplane mode is not good enough, technically speaking.

DGCA’s civil aviation requirement 3.1 states, “No person shall use any electronic device, which intentionally transmits radio signals like mobile/cellular phones, amateur radio transceivers, etc at all times while on board an aircraft for the purpose of flight.” It also cites a corresponding rule in Aircraft rule (29 B): “No person shall operate, nor shall the operator or the pilot-in-command of an aircraft allow the operation of any portable electronic device on board an aircraft in flight.”

Recent studies have shown that WiFi and other communication networks have no effect on the communication between pilot and ground crew. Following this, American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had changed its rules to allow use of most electronic equipment on board

There has also been the argument that cellphones operate on different bands and airlines cannot act as an operator during a flight. However that point is not applicable for WiFi services.

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Track transfers online

Government departments in Maharashtra have started listing transfer details of its staff on official websites, following a directive from the state information commission. The commission had issued the directives after a Pune-based RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar approached the information commission over the abrupt transfer of former municipal commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi in February. The information commissioner also ordered the government to list the reasons on the general administration department website within eight days of the transfer, if any IAS officer is transferred in violation of section 4(1) of the Maharashtra Government Servants’ Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act 2005.

Though significant, this move still does not solve the issue of IAS officers being transferred based on the whims and fancies of the ruling government citing vague reasons.

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DDA’s new website

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The Delhi Development Authority is setting up a new website that will allow people to make payments, for frequently used services like booking of marriage venues online. The new website will also let people check the status of their applications. According to the report, the organisation is also in talks with Ernst and Young to study processes in all its departments and prepare a request for proposal document. DDA’s existing website also lets you book community halls and parks for events online, but the process is not the most convenient one.

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Telcos are not telegraph authority

Consumer courts are avoiding cases against telcos for their billing practices, despite a circular by Department of Telcome (DoT) that private telecom companies cannot be identified with the “Telegraph Authority” of India as defined in the Indian Telegraph Act.

According to the Indian Telegraph Act, any dispute between the Telegraph Authority and users of telegraph facilities must be resolved outside the courts, through arbitration. DoT, in its clarification, had said that just because a billing complaint against DoT has been dismissed under the act, telecom companies cannot seek refuge under the judgment and must be subjected to the Consumer Protection Act.

However a month after clarification by the DoT, a consumer disputes redressal forum in New Delhi dismissed a billing dispute against Tata Teleservices Ltd on these grounds. Earlier this month, the Jharkhand State forum also dismissed a complaint against BSNL on similar grounds. It’s not clear if consumer courts will change its interpretation of these cases any time soon.

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Take CMS exams online

Combined Medical Services (CMS) examination for getting jobs as medical officers in Indian Railways and different civic bodies in Delhi, will be held online as well The paperless test of objective type questions, conducted for the first time by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), will be held at over 40 centres across the country on June 22.

UPSC earlier relied on OMR (optical mark recognition) sheets where candidates had to darken their choice of answer from multiple choice (objective) paper. Candidates will be able to change their answers any time during the test and UPSC will also set up a test site so candidates can familiarize themselves with the interface.

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