‘GPS facility to raise handset costs’: 

‘GPS facility to raise handset costs’

Context

The government has made it mandatory to install Global Positioning System (GPS) in all mobile phones, including feature phones that will be sold in India, from January 1, 2018 so as to locate subscribers in emergency situations especially for women

Introduction:

The Telecom Ministry will hold a meeting with handset makers shortly to review the policy’s implications.

Seeking inputs:

  • India Celluler Association (ICA), which represents majority of mobile phone companies in India, has written to the government to use A-GPS technology which can help in locating callers using mobile towers near their location.
  • GPS is the main tool regarding location details of the subscriber in emergency, so government has decided to implement it in all the mobile phone handsets from 1 January 2018 in a positive manner.
  • ICA had said feature phones retail for Rs 500-700 for which bill of material (BOM) used is to the tune of $ 5 (around Rs 330- 350). Adding GPS in such phones will increase the production cost to $ 9-11 per unit.

Controversy between government and companies

  • Handset makers had suggested using an alternate method of triangulation of telecom towers to detect location even when there’s no data connection available.
  • However,  DoT argued that Public Safety Awareness Point operator – part of the central system to handle distress calls on emergency number 112 – cannot accurately detect the location using the triangulation method as effectively as it can with GPS.
  • The representative said that more that 40% of the mobile market still comprises features phones which are sold at an average of about Rs. 1,500.

Implications:

  •  Global Positioning System , a feature that enables tracking the location of a device- to a feature phone is not only technically challenging, but will also lead to at least a 40%-50% jump in the prices of such devices.
  • The GPS device will need more power and memory and it will also increase the cost .
  •  It would not be of any use as data connectivity is not there across the country.
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