India is Pushing NavIC as a Alternative to GPS in Smartphone by 2023

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The Indian government is pushing smartphone makers to support the homegrown navigation system NavIC next year. The tight timeline and additional costs reportedly shook up the industry.

The Indian government is pushing smartphone makers to add NavIC support by January 2023, according to Reuters. Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple are shaken by extra costs, product development, and deadlines.

Update: Govt. of India officially clarified that no timeline is being issued for implementation of NavIC in smartphone.

About NavIC

NavIC, or Navigation with Indian Constellation, was developed by ISRO.  2018 marked its debut year.

It covers India and 1500 km from its borders. It’s India’s regional GPS alternative.

8 satellites orbit 36,000 km above sea level. Three satellites are geostationary and five are inclined geosynchronous. Launch of  5 more satellites are planned.

NavIC works like GPS. It’s accurate to within 10m on land and in the ocean.

NavIC’s main use is public vehicle tracking. Also for alerting fishermen to emergencies and tracking natural disasters.

India wants to increase its use in smartphones.

GPS vs NavIC

The GPS navigation system competes with NavIC.

NavIC and GPS operate in different areas. GPS is global, but NavIC is only in India and nearby regions. NavIC will soon be available globally.

GPS has a superior satellite network because it’s available worldwide. It has 31 satellites versus NavIC’s 8. These satellites are all geosynchronous, unlike NavIC’s two types.

Both NavIC and GPS for civilians have 20-meter accuracy, so neither is better.

Realme X50 Pro, iQoo 3, Realme 6 series, and Redmi Note 9 series had NavIC in 2020. After NavIC’s initial hype subsided, no brand released new devices with the technology.

With India’s new push, more smartphones will support NavIC.

India wants NavIC because…

Strategic significance: It will help to reduce dependence on foreign satellite systems for navigation services, particularly for strategic sectors. It will make Indian Armed Forces self-reliant.

Neighbourhood relations: With the provision of extended coverage, one of the stated future use of the project includes sharing of the project with the SAARC nations. This will help in integrating the regional navigation system further and strengthening our “Neighbourhood First” policy.

Net security provider: Having a global navigation system bolsters the ability of a nation to serve as a net security provider.

E.g. GPS played a significant role in relief efforts post disasters such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region in 2004 and the Pakistan-India earthquake in 2005, and has delivered significant strategic and economic benefits to the US.

Food and livelihood security: Through land-area mapping, yield monitoring and precision-planting of crops, NAVIC allows for the development of civic capabilities in food and livelihood security.

Scientific advancement: In addition to its civilian and military applications, it will contribute to the advancement of science and technology.

“NavlC is an indigenous positioning system that is under Indian control. There is. no risk of the service being withdrawn or denied in a given situation.”, the government of India mentioned in a press release.

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