NavIC: India’s homegrown navigation system, NavIC is developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for military and commercial purposes. According to an earlier mandate, the Indian government had made it compulsory for all smartphones to install NavIC by January 01, 2023. However, in a recent update, it was reported that The Ministry of Electronics and IT, in a statement said there is no fixed timeline yet for making NavIC mandatory. The government has been pushing for the Indian navigation system for quite some time and aims to replace foreign navigation systems with NavIC. The issue is being currently discussed with the stakeholders. In any case, NavIC is something you should know about as it is likely to replace foreign navigation systems in India.
WHAT IS NAVIC AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
NavIC is India’s satellite system which ISRO started developing in 2006. The approved budget was $174 million at the time, with an expected completion time in 2011, as per a report by India Today. However, NavIC finally became operational in 2018. India has deployed 8 satellites in the sky covering the whole Indian landmass, and up to 1,500 km from its boundaries. Now, all these satellites covering the entire Indian landmass make sure that position accuracy is superior to GPS or GLONASS, and the claims are less than 10 meters in its primary service area. The presence of dual frequency bands, L5-Band and S-Band make the accuracy of the satellites believable. However, GPS, an international navigation system, relies on 31 satellites that circle the earth twice a day. Whereas, NavIC relies only on 7 satellites that cover India and neighbouring regions.
There are already a lot of phones that feature NavIC. About 300 phones that are currently sold in India feature NavIC. The Realme X50 Pro was the first phone to feature NavIC, back in February 2020.
WILL PRICES OF SMARTPHONES INCREASE WITH NAVIC?
As per a report by India Today, the Indian Government has already held private meetings with a few smartphone manufacturers to push them for NavIC’s implementation in their smartphones. Smartphone makers, on the other hand, have argued that apart from a phone’s processor, many other components are required for NavIC to work on a smartphone. Although, there are a few select chipsets in the market that already come with NavIC support, including this year’s top-of-the-line, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. It is possible that flagship phones, powered by top-of-the-line chipsets, might get more costly because of the NavIC inclusion. The budget and mid-range segments are expected to see an increase in price.
At the moment, NavIC is only being used for services such as public vehicle tracking, or for providing emergency alerts in areas with no terrestrial network connectivity, like in a sea. Now, the next goal is to make NavIC commercially available to the general public.