NavIC system: Why is the Centre promoting this home-grown alternative to GPS

Source: The post is based on the article “NavIC system: Why is the Centre promoting this home-grown alternative to GPS” published in Hindu Businessline on 26th September 2022

What is the News?

India is pushing tech giants to make their smartphones compatible with its NavIC system.

However, the manufacturers, including companies like Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple are worried about the elevated costs and disruptions as the move requires hardware changes.

What is NavIC?

NavIC, or Navigation with Indian Constellation is an independent stand-alone navigation satellite system developed by the Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO).

NavIC was originally approved in 2006. It was expected to be completed by late 2011 but only became operational in 2018.

NavIC consists of eight satellites and covers the whole of India’s landmass and up to 1,500 km from its boundaries.

Where is NavIC used currently?

Currently, NavIC’s use is limited. It is being used in public vehicle tracking in India, for providing emergency warning alerts to fishermen venturing into the deep sea where there is no terrestrial network connectivity, and for tracking and providing information related to natural disasters.

How does NavIC work compared to other satellite navigation systems like GPS?

The main difference is the serviceable area covered by these systems. GPS caters to users across the globe and its satellites circle the earth twice a day while NavIC is currently for use in India and adjacent areas.

Moreover, like GPS, there are three more navigation systems that have a global coverage — Galileo from the European Union, Russia-owned GLONASS and China’s Beidou.

QZSS operated by Japan is another regional navigation system covering the Asia-Oceania region with a focus on Japan.

Why is India promoting NavIC?

India says NavIC is conceived with the aim of removing dependence on foreign satellite systems for navigation service requirements, particularly for strategic sectors.

Relying on systems like GPS and GLONASS may not always be reliable as those are operated by the defence agencies of respective nations, and it is possible that civilian services can be degraded or denied.

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