O GPS is among the trivial features of a smartphone. But India wants to go further. The country’s government is trying to convince giants in the sector to also include the navIC on their cell phones. This is a system similar to GPS, but developed precisely in India. The problem is that companies like apple, Samsung and Xiaomi are not liking the idea.
What is NavIC?
In an effort to make India as self-sufficient as possible, the local government has been trying to lessen reliance on foreign systems. This includes the GPS. acronym for Navigation with Indian ConstellationNavIC emerges as an alternative that promises to be more accurate.
It is not an unprecedented move. Originating in the United States, GPS is the most popular satellite tracking system out there. But there are other options. The European Union has Galileo, Russia has Glonass, China has Beidou.
India also wants a location system to call its own. And it’s been a long time. The Indian government approved the NavIC project in 2006. It was estimated that the system would be operational by the end of 2011.
But NavIC only came into operation in 2018, with eight satellites covering the entire territory of India and some regions around the country. It is in the Indian government’s plans to make the system global, however.
Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi resist NavIC
Today, NavIC is used within India for tracking public vehicles and monitoring natural disasters, for example. But the Indian government wants to expand the ways in which the technology is used.
System support on cell phones is part of these plans. To this end, big names in the segment are being pressured to implement NavIC on cell phones sold from 2023 onwards.
But, according to Reuterscompanies such as Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi resisted the idea in meetings held in August and September of this year.
In general, there is concern that the incorporation of technology increases the costs of developing and producing smartphones. In this regard, Binu George, Samsung’s representative in India, made the following statement at a meeting held on September 2:
That [o suporte ao NavIC] would increase costs as it requires hardware design changes and additional investments to support India-specific devices. In addition, companies are already preparing for models that will be launched in 2024.
Could there be other reasons? He can. But the cost-conscious argument makes sense.
Just to give you an example, at the aforementioned September 2 meeting, MediaTek even made it clear that all of its 5G cellular chips can support NavIC, but with additional hardware and some cost increase.
The Indian government insists
Resistance to the system derails the Indian government’s plans. Just take into account that only Samsung and Xiaomi together account for almost 40% of smartphone sales in India.
But the Indian government has not given up on the idea. At a future meeting, the Indian space agency should even formally commit to providing technical support to cell phone manufacturers for the adoption of NavIC.
Aware that the pressure must continue, companies are even trying to negotiate. A proposal made by some of them is that the Indian government make the system compatible with the L1 satellite frequency, which is already used by GPS.
Theoretically, this change would make NavIC integration easier and less costly. For now, the Indian government only uses the L5 frequency for the system.
It’s important to make it clear that, despite the cost issue, NavIC has already been implemented on mobile phones — in about 300 models, according to a survey by Counterpoint Research.
Now, we can only wait for the next chapters of this novel.