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India mandates NavIC support for smartphones, no timeline yet

Photo: MStudioImages/E+/Getty Images

Photo: MStudioImages/E+/Getty Images

The Indian government is pushing smartphone makers to sell devices that receive NavIC signals along with GPS.

India originally stated NavIC would be required in smartphones sold starting in January 2023, according to Reuters, but strong reaction from smartphone manufacturers Apple, Xiaomi and Samsung apparently caused the government to push back or remove the deadline.

A deadline of January 2023 would not allow enough time for smartphone makers to integrate NavIC-enabled receivers to their devices. Steps include redesign, securing parts, testing and assembly. Many smartphones sold in India by the companies are economy-level devices priced under US$200.

The three tech giants met with government officials, seeking an extended target date of 2025, Reuters reported.

However, India’s Ministry of Electronics & IT issued a statement via Twitter :

India has been pushing for adoption of NavIC since at least 2021, while chipmaker Qualcomm has been producing NavIC-enabled modules since 2020.

NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is the operational name for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) developed by India’s space agency for military and commercial purposes. NavIC consists of eight satellites that cover the Indian mainland and the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundaries.

“NavIC can help in navigation on land, air, sea and also in disaster management,” Science & Technology Minister Jitendra Singh said in a press release. “NavIC satellites are placed at a higher orbit than the GPS of United States. NavIC satellites are placed in geostationary orbit (GEO) and geosynchronous orbit (GSO) with an altitude of about 36,000 km; GPS satellites are placed in medium earth orbit (MEO) with an altitude of about 20,000 km.”

“NavIC uses dual-frequency bands, which improves accuracy of dual-frequency receivers by enabling them to correct atmospheric errors through simultaneous use of two frequencies,” Singh said. “It also helps in better reliability and availability because the signal from either frequency can serve the positioning requirement equally well.”

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