India is pushing smartphone manufacturers to make the new devices compatible with its homegrown navigation system by next year.
According to a Reuters report, the move has left tech giants like Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple worrying, who fear elevated costs and disruptions, as this would require hardware changes. A push for the new homegrown navigation system aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive for self-reliance.
India has, over the years, expanded the use of its regional navigation system, Navigation with the Indian Constellation (NavIC). The Indian government aims to reduce its dependence on foreign systems, including the widely used U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). China, European Union, Japan, and Russia are some countries with their own global or regional navigation system as opposed to GPS.
According to the Indian government, NavIC provides more accurate domestic navigation, and its use is likely to benefit the economy.
What is NavIC?
NavIC is an independent, stand-alone navigation satellite system developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Initially approved in 2006 at a total cost of $174 million, NavIC was expected to be completed by late 2011. However, it became fully operational in 2018.
It consists of eight satellites and covers India’s landmass up to 1,500 km (930 miles) from its boundaries. NavIC’s uptake is minimal and is used in vehicle tracking in the country, providing emergency warning alerts to fishermen venturing into the deep sea and monitoring and providing information related to natural disasters.
How does NavIC compare?
The main difference is the serviceable area covered by these systems. While GPS caters to users across the globe and its satellites circle the earth twice a day, NavIC is currently for use in India and its adjacent areas.
Why is India promoting NavIC?
Conceived to reduce dependence on foreign navigation systems, NavIC is an indigenous positioning system under Indian control. There is no risk of the service being withdrawn or denied in a given situation. Whereas relying on systems like GPS and GLONASS might not always be reliable as they are operated by the defence agencies of the respective nations.