What is NavIC, the Made in India navigation system that Centre is pushing for?

Published on Sep 29, 2022 03:27 PM IST

The Centre in August had said that NavIC is as good as the GPS in terms of position accuracy. The 2021 satellite navigation policy had stated that the government will work towards expanding the coverage to ensure the availability of the NavIC signal in any corner of the world.

The Centre in August had said that NavIC is as good as the GPS in terms of position accuracy(AFP)
The Centre in August had said that NavIC is as good as the GPS in terms of position accuracy(AFP)
By | Edited by Aryan Prakash

The Narendra Modi government is pushing for a 'Made In India' navigation system in the new devices sold in the country from next year. NavIC is being touted as the alternative to the prevalent Global Positioning Service (GPS) Navigation System. The decision has already jolted the smartphone makers which cite cost issues as the incumbent chipsets in the devices are tuned to support frequency band suitable for GPS and Russian system GLONASS.

After several media reports claimed the Centre had asked the smartphone makers to ensure their products were compatible with NavIC within months, the ministry of electronics and information technology issued a clarification.

“A media report has claimed citing a meeting that mobile cos were asked to make smartphones compatible with NavIC within months. This is to clarify: (1) No timeline has been fixed. (2) The cited meeting was consultative; and (3) the issue is under discussion with all stakeholders”, the ministry tweeted.

The Centre says NavIC will put an end to dependence on foreign navigation system. This navigation system is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ vision. Here are ten things to know about this indigenous navigation system.

1. The Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent standalone navigation satellite system developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation. It was originally approved in 2006 at a cost of $174 million ( 1,426 crore) and was expected to be completed by late 2011, Reuters reported. It became operational in 2018.

2. NavIC comprises eight satellites, covering the whole of India's landmass and up to 1,500 kilometres from its boundaries. At present, its use is limited as it helps in public vehicle tracking, emergency warning alerts to fishermen venturing into sea and tracking and providing information on natural disasters.

3. The differentiating factor between NavIC and GPS is that the latter caters to users across the globe and its satellites circle the earth twice a day. On the other hand, NavIC is currently used in India and adjacent areas.

4. The Centre in August had said that NavIC is as good as the GPS in terms of position accuracy. The 2021 satellite navigation policy had stated that the government will work towards expanding the coverage to ensure the availability of the NavIC signal in any corner of the world.

5. India has cited that NavIC was conceived to remove dependence on foreign satellite systems for navigation requirements.

6. According to Reuters, tech giants like Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple fear elevated costs and disruptions as the move demands hardware changes.

7. During private meetings in August and September, the representatives of these tech giants had cited worries that manufacturing NavIC compliant smartphones would mean higher research and production costs.

8. According to report, the smartphone players have sought time until 2025 to implement the changes. The Centre has also clarified that no timeline has been fixed and discussion is underway with all stakeholders.

9. At present, only a few chipsets -- which include Snapdragon mobile platforms 720G, 662, and 460 -- support NavIC technology, PTI reported.

10. The Centre has said that relying on navigation systems like GPS and Russian GLONASS may not always be reliable as those are operated by the defence agencies of the respective nations and it is possible that the civilian services can be degraded or denied, Reuters report stated. The government said NavIC is totally under Indian control.

(With PTI, Reuters inputs)

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