Thai Airways International (THAI) plans to make WiFi internet available on flights as the national carrier prepares to apply for a licence with the national telecom regulator.
Jesada Sivaraks, secretary to the vice-chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said the airline is preparing to ask for a type-1 licence to provide in-flight WiFi, allowing its passengers to stay connected.
By now, many airlines offer both internet and cellphone service aloft, meaning the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is once again far behind the curve.
A licence will be granted once THAI submits its application, he said.
Two years ago, the airline asked the regulator for two licences to provide both in-flight WiFi and mobile service.
But Mr Jesada said the NBTC could not award a licence for mobile services as it would violate Section 46 of the Frequency Allocation Act, which stipulates that such a spectrum must be allocated via auction only.
He said the NBTC has reserved the 2.4-gigahertz spectrum for WiFi use on board.
Mr Jesada said THAI is obliged to choose either OnAir of Switzerland or Britain's AeroMobile Communications as an international WiFi network service provider.
OnAir is incorporated as a joint venture with Airbus. As of March, OnAir services were available in more than 50 countries and via 16 airlines flying over five continents.
AeroMobile, incorporated with Boeing, provides technology and services that enable airline passengers to use their mobile phones for voice calls, texting and mobile data while flying.
Since 2008, more than 17 million passengers have connected to the AeroMobile network.
Mr Jesada also said the NBTC had recommended TOT and CAT Telecom expand their WiFi network coverage nationwide to alleviate mobile data traffic congestion.
Wireless data traffic volume in Thailand has surged 145% this year, resulting in heavy congestion on mobile networks.
In another development, the NBTC expects to implement a draft regulation governing issuance of satellite licences in December.
The draft will comprise licences for both ground and space segments and is expected to become effective next year.
Shares of THAI closed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 16.50 baht Wednesday, down 50 satang, in trade worth 88.7 million baht.