The Indian government is pushing major smartphone manufacturers to offer support for the NavIC Home Navigation System on devices sold in the country from next year. A move that reportedly shook the industry due to the tight timeframe and additional costs.
Reuters reported (opens in a new tab)that the Indian government is pressing smartphone manufacturers to implement NavIC support on smartphones sold in India from January 2023. Smartphone giants such as Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple are shocked by the additional cost and development of related products and the tight deadline.
Let’s take a look at what exactly NavIC is and all you need to know about it.
What is NavIC?
NavIC or Navigation with Indian Constellation is a satellite navigation system developed by ISRO. It was launched in 2018.
It is a navigation system that covers all of India and up to 1,500 km from its borders. It is a regional alternative to the US GPS navigation system.
It consists of 8 satellites located approximately 36,000 km above sea level. Three satellites are in geostationary orbit and the remaining five are in inclined geosynchronous orbit. Another five satellites are planned to be launched.
The operation of NavIC is similar to that of GPS. It has an accuracy better than 10 m all over the Indian land and better than 10 m in the Indian Ocean.
However, the NavIC use case is limited and is mainly used in public vehicle tracking. In addition, to send warning alerts to fishermen at sea and to track and provide information on natural disasters.
The Indian government now wants to increase its use by making it more common in smartphones.
NavIC and GPS
GPS or Global Positioning System, a widely used navigation system, is in direct competition 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 neighboring regions. In the future, we plan to make NavIC available worldwide.
Since it is available worldwide and has to serve many more areas, GPS has a much better satellite network. 31 satellites are in operation, compared to 8 NavICs. All of these satellites are geosynchronous satellites compared to the two different types of satellites used by NavIC.
Both NavIC and Civilian GPS are 20 meters accurate, so you won’t get better accuracy with either system.
Smartphones were previously supported by NavIC
Some smartphones were equipped with NavIC as early as 2020, namely Realme X50 Pro, iQoo 3, Realme 6 series and Redmi Note 9. But with the initial hype surrounding NavIC gone, no brand has bothered to introduce new NavIC-enabled devices.
This new pressure from the Indian government means we will see support for NavIC in more and more smartphones.
Why is India pushing for NavIC?
NavIC is expected to reduce dependence on GPS and other foreign satellite systems, especially in “strategic sectors”.
Relying on these foreign satellite systems may not always be reliable as these systems have been operated by defense agencies of other countries. In the future, strategic or civil service may be denied.
“NavlC is a native positioning system that is under Indian control. There is no risk of withdrawal or denial of service in a given situation.”, Indian Government mentioned in press release (opens in a new tab).
India is now pushing NavIC to reduce dependence on other navigation systems.