India will soon have its own satellite navigation system on the lines of GPS by the US, GLONASS by Russia, European Union’s Galileo and China’s BNS, with the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) in the process of coming out with a tender to invite companies, including start-ups, to commercially manufacture NavIC chips. NavIC, or navigation with Indian constellation, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), allows navigation in the Indian Ocean region using Geosynchronous Orbit (GSO) satellite and Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellite. “We are working on NavIC and will soon commercially launch it. Preparations are in full swing in my ministry,” minister for electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters when asked when would India have its own satellite navigation system.
He was briefing media on the ministry’s achievements in the last four years. Satellite navigation systems are used for a host of services such as terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, vehicle tracking, navigation services for drivers, etc. More popular uses of this technology are for map-based localisation services like Google Maps and for linking with mobile phones for services like booking a cab or ordering food. The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NavIC will provide two types of services – standard positioning service (SPS) for all users and an encrypted restricted service (RS) only for authorised users. It will provide a position accuracy of better than 20 mtr in the primary service area. A senior government official said a joint working group (JWG) was formed to identify the funding mechanism and institutions for developing NavIC chips and their use in various devices.
The MeitY is working on developing an ecosystem for NavIC receivers for civilian and commercial sectors. “At present, the ministry has prepared a draft request for proposal (RFP) after holding detailed consultation with the industry. The government will promote start-ups and MSMEs to enter this area, which will help enhancing competence of the domestic market. The MeitY will soon come out with the final RFP for developing NavIC chips,” Prasad said. Another official said NavIC is India’s answer to the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BNS. Having an indigenous satellite navigation technology will not only develop the domestic market, but will also give a huge tactical and strategic advantage to India vis-a-vis countries such as the US, Russia and China who have their own systems. “The US and Russia wanted us (India) to use their technology, but the government wants to have its own system for various reasons. One of them is that it will help check mobile data of consumers from leaving or being used by entities which are located outside the country,” the minister added.