The Global Positioning System or GPS, has been the standard satellite-based navigation system used by most in the world. There are other technologies that provide navigation guidance like Russia’s GLONASS, The EU’s Galileo, Japan’s QZSS, and China BeiDou, and now, India is throwing their hat in the ring.
India is now calling for tech companies to create smartphones that are compatible with their navigation system, also known as NavIC or Navigation with Indian Constellation or IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite Systems) as it was previously named. The concept for NavIC was approved in 2006 and after 12 years, it yielded eight satellites that cover the entire country’s territory.
Their request stems from their preference for a more accurate domestic navigation according to 9To5Mac. Though, major smartphone manufacturers are not exactly happy with the idea. Integrating a whole new navigation system with a smartphone’s software and hardware might be difficult to achieve.
The Tech Giants’ Response to the Request
Major smartphone manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi had held private meetings according to reports. According to a tweet shown in goodwordnews, no timetable has been set, and stakeholders were still discussing it, and the meeting was consultative.
One of Samsung India’s executives said that implementing NavIC on smartphones “within months” as the media stated that India was imposing, was simply not possible and may not be feasible until 2025.
Why Aren’t Major Smartphone Manufacturers Jumping at the Idea?
Tech giants have claimed that making their devices compatible with NavIC would not only require “more testing clearances” but would also cause a significant increase in production cost. The smartphones that India proposed to be made would need new chipsets and other hardware changes.
India’s plans also came in a little too late since Samsung India’s executives said that they were already prepared for models to be launched in 2024, which might mean that the estimated 2025 release is a little too optimistic.
Another issue that might hinder the process for India to have its own GPS was that its satellite frequencies differ from what smartphone manufacturers usually work with. The Indian government relies on the L% satellite system while the GPS uses L1 frequency, which the companies are trying to convince India to switch to for the sake of making the transition easier.
It doesn’t help that products that are not locally produced have high local taxes imposed by the Indian government. Although Apple assembles phones in India which makes them cost less, it is still unknown whether a similar approach will be applied if the plan for having their own GPS does bear fruit.
Why Does India Want Their Own Navigation System?
Aside from accurate domestic navigation, the Indian government would have complete control of the navigation system as opposed to the others that are governed by the respective countries that own them.
According to goodwordnews, since NavIC is an independent regional system over the Indian region, India will not have to depend on other systems to provide positioning services.
Since defense agencies from the US and Russia operate GPS and GLONASS respectively, civil service may be degraded or refused.