The Indian government is planning to bring a new rule that will see all smartphones offer support for NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) from 2025. In case you don’t know, NavIC is India’s home-grown navigation system that was designed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as an alternative to GPS (Global Positioning System).
In a recent interview, minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that all the smartphones sold in India from 2025 will have to either use NavIC chips or provide support for NavIC-powered chips. He further noted that the requirement will go in effect from January 1, 2025 for 5G smartphones and will become mandatory for all other phones operating in the L1 band from December 2025.
He mentioned that Apple embracing NavIC was a significant achievement for India. Apple’s new iPhone 15 series comes with NavIC support as an alternative to GPS.
The idea and the goal today is that wherever we have the capability in India, we will certainly start pushing platforms to incorporate these in their products. Wherever we have these capabilities, the aim is to incentivise companies to use them as well.
Chandrasekhar also noted that India is not planning to mandate NavIC as the only navigation system but asking both automobile and smartphone companies to offer support for NavIC.
In the digital ecosystem today, as much as the governments will mandate the use of particular platforms or solutions or technology, you cannot mandate anything that is not cost or performance competitive. If the iPhone as a global platform and a global device recognises that NavIC is a competitive GPS solution, it is a vindication of NavIC.
Since January, the Indian government had talks with manufacturers on how to incorporate the NavIC system into their upcoming smartphones as well as ensure that they comply with the deadline of 2025.
The NavIC satellite system currently covers the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, China, and parts of Africa and Australia. It currently has five satellites in orbit with a target of 24 satellites in the future to offer worldwide coverage. NavIC currently offers accurate tracking for up to five meters in ideal conditions and up to 10 meters in non-ideal conditions.