Govt says no timeline fixed for indigenous navigation NavIC compatible smartphones

Following media reports about the government asking all smartphone manufacturers to use NavIC for navigation, the Ministry of IT and Telecom has now clarified that it is in discussions with all the stakeholders on this matter, and no definitive timeline has been decided for the implementation.

Clearing all the speculation, the ministry tweeted, a media report has claimed citing a meeting that mobile companies were asked to make smartphones compatible with NavIC within months. The tweet clarified three things. Firstly, no timeline has been fixed for the same. Secondly, the cited meeting was consultative, and lastly, the issue is under discussion with all stakeholders.

ISRO-developed NavIC is India’s attempt to have a regional navigation system. There are four global navigation systems – US-based GPS, Russia’s Glonass,  Europe’s Galileo and BeiDou from China.

Currently, a few chipsets from Qualcomm and MediaTek support NavIC. In 2019, Qualcomm announced support for India’s NavIC Satellite Navigation System in Commercial Chipset Platforms. Snapdragon 720G, 662, and 460 were the first SoCs to get NavIC support, and Qualcomm was to enable NavIC on Snapdragon 865 through a software update. On the other hand, MediaTek 5G chips support NavIC.

With an increasing number of mid-level smartphone using these chips, some smartphones in India already have NavIC support. The market share of the top five smartphone brands with phones having NavIC support between January to July 2022 includes Xiaomi (33 per cent), OnePlus (24 per cent), Vivo (22 per cent), realme (11 per cent) and OPPO (5 per cent), as per CyberMedia Ressearch.

“The move to mandate NavIC usage in smartphones is part of a move by the government to foster self-reliance from GPS.  While NavIC support has seen limited support across many smartphone brands, a stringent timeline to introduce NavIC would have been tough to implement,” says Prabhu Ram, Head- Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR).

What is NavIC?

NavIC stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation, which is an Indian regional navigation satellite system. According to ISRO, this is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India.

It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India and the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area. An Extended Service Area lies between the primary service area and the area enclosed by the rectangle from Latitude 30 degree South to 50 degree North, Longitude 30 degree East to 130 degree East.

It can provide two types of devices – Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and Restricted Service (RS).

To date, ISRO has built a total of nine satellites in the IRNSS series, of which eight are currently in orbit. Three of these satellites are in geostationary orbit (GEO), while the remaining are in geosynchronous orbits (GSO) that maintain an inclination of 29 degree to the equatorial plane. The eight operational satellites in the IRNSS series, namely IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F, 1G and 1I were launched on July 02, 2013; April 04, 2014; October 16, 2014; March 28, 2015; January 20, 2016; March 10, 2016, April 28, 2016; and April 12, 2018 respectively. The PSLV-39 / IRNSS-1H was unsuccessful; the satellite could not reach orbit.

Also read: India wants Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung and others to use NavIC and not just GPS in their phones

Also read: Realme X50 Pro 5G world’s first phone with India’s NavIC navigation system developed by ISRO

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