The government of India is pushing major smartphone manufacturers to support the local navigation system, NavIC, from next year on devices sold in the country. A move that would have shaken the industry because of the tight deadline and the additional costs involved.
Reuters reported (opens in new tab)that the government of India is pushing smartphone manufacturers to implement support for NavIC in smartphones they sell in India from January 2023. Smartphone giants like Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple are shaken because of the extra costs and product development involved and the tight deadline.
Let’s look at what exactly NavIC is and everything you need to know about it.
What is NavIC?
NavIC, or Indian Constellation Navigation, is a satellite navigation system developed by ISRO. It became operational in 2018.
It is a navigation system that covers the whole of India and up to 1500 km of its limits. It is a regional alternative to the US GPS navigation system.
It consists of 8 satellites located at approximately 36,000 km above sea level. Three satellites are in geostationary orbit, while the other five are in inclined geosynchronous orbit. Five more satellites are planned to be launched.
The operation of NavIC is similar to that of GPS. It provides an accuracy of over 10m across the entire Indian landmass and better than 10m over the Indian Ocean.
However, the use case of NavIC is limited and is predominantly used in public vehicle tracking. Also, to provide emergency alert alerts to fishermen at sea and to track and provide information about natural disasters.
The government of India now wants to increase its use by making it more common on smartphones.
NavIC vs GPS
GPS or Global Positioning System, the universally used navigation system, competes directly with NavIC.
The main difference between NavIC and GPS is the area of operation. GPS is available worldwide, while NavIC is limited to India and adjacent regions. There is a plan to make NavIC available worldwide in the future.
As it is available all over the world and needs to serve many more areas, GPS has a much superior satellite network. It has 31 satellites in operation, against 8 of the NavIC. All of these satellites are geosynchronous satellites, compared to two different types of satellites used by NavIC.
NavIC and civilian GPS accuracy is 20 meters, so you won’t get better accuracy with either system.
Smartphones came with NavIC support before
Some smartphones came with NavIC in 2020, such as Realme X50 Pro, iQoo 3, Realme 6 series and Redmi Note 9 series. But after the initial NavIC hype died down, no brand bothered to bring in new devices with NavIC support.
This new push from the Government of India means that we will see support for NavIC on more and more smartphones.
Why is India pushing for NavIC?
NavIC is designed to reduce dependence on GPS and other foreign satellite systems, especially for ‘strategic sectors’.
Relying on these foreign satellite systems may not always be reliable as these systems were operated by defense agencies in foreign countries. It may be possible in the future that the service will be denied for strategic use or civilian use.
“NavlC is an indigenous positioning system that is under indigenous control. There is no risk of service being withdrawn or denied in a given situation.”, the government of India mentioned in a press release (opens in new tab).
India is now pushing for NavIC to reduce reliance on other navigation systems.