The Indian government is recommending that smartphone manufacturers include support for the NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) navigation system in new smartphones that will be sold in the country next year. These efforts have worried the industry due to higher costs and shorter timelines.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has established a navigation service known as NavIC. The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is well known to everyone and has been used for years to provide geolocation services. While GPS was created by the US government and can be used anywhere in the world, NavIC is currently only available in India and so far covers only 1,500 kilometers of the country.

Reasons to enter NavIC:

NavIC is designed to provide higher precision positioning not only for use by ordinary people but also for military operations. The US government does not provide useful GPS information to other countries, which led to the creation of India’s own navigation service. The roots of this go back to the Kargil War, when Pakistani troops established themselves in Kargil in 1999. At the time, India requested GPS data on the area, but the US refused. India then realized the value of having its own satellite navigation system and as a result the NavIC idea gained further support.

Differences from GPS:

GPS uses geosynchronous satellites whose position is not determined relative to a specific point on Earth. In contrast, NavIC mainly relies on geostationary satellites whose positions are set relative to a specific location. Satellites always orbit a certain fixed point on the Earth’s surface because they follow the path of the planet. Geostationary satellites are in a higher orbit, which means less interference, but also weaker signals.

While most people assume that GPS has an accuracy of up to 20 meters, NavIC can achieve an accuracy of up to 5-10 meters. In addition to accuracy, NavIC is believed to have a faster fix time, or time to first fix (TTFF) in technical terms. This means that even in busy urban areas with several tall buildings and barriers, NavIC can pinpoint your location faster than GPS.

Using NavIC:

NavIC was originally approved in 2006 at a cost of $174 million. It was supposed to be completed by the end of 2011, but it only started working in 2018. Eight satellites make up the NavIC. Currently, its use is limited. NavIC is now used to track and deliver disaster information, provide emergency alerts to fishermen going to deep seas where there is no domestic grid connectivity, and monitor public traffic in India.

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