Govt may make GPS mandatory in mobile phones

The move would show the caller’s exact location and help in implementing the single emergency number 112

The government could soon make it mandatory for all mobile phone makers to install GPS (Global Positioning System) chipsets in handsets.

Government sources said the ministry of home affairs (MHA) wants the department of telecommunications (DoT) to discuss the matter with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and work out modalities to ensure that even low-cost handsets made or sold in India mandatorily have in-built GPS chipsets.

This would not only ensure exact location and information of the caller, but also help in successfully implementing the single emergency number 112, proposed by Trai. Besides, the MHA’s Nationwide Emergency Response System (NERS) would also largely benefit, said a government official.

Trai had in April this year came out with recommendations on making ‘112’ the single emergency number which can be used for all emergency phone calls across the country, including the police, fire and ambulance.

The regulator had proposed implementation of public safety answering point (PSAP)-based integrated emergency communication and response system (IECRS) in the country, which will be accessed through a single emergency number, 112.

However the proposal was rejected by DoT which argued that a large number of mobile users use low-cost handsets that does not support GPS. It had also pointed out that the impact of enabling all mobile phone handsets with GPS would be studied before taking a decision.

Trai recently proposed that DoT may consider mandating a transition to GPS-enabled handsets in a certain timeframe to obtain more accurate location information of the caller. Reiterating its proposal on GPS, Trai said most of the smartphones already have GPS, but this facility is not available in low-cost handsets.

Trai has also pointed out the requirement by the MHA mandating GPS-based handsets, which would help find a location more accurately besides also help in investigating cases. In this regard, Trai said it is necessary to have some timeframe so that handset makers can incorporate the GPS feature in all mobile handsets.

But DoT has not responded to Trai’s arguments in this regard, forcing MHA to intervene and get the issue sorted out at the earliest. The MHA had recently released the guidelines for Nationwide Emergency Response System, which would not be of much help till the single emergency number 112 comes into operation.

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First published on: 15-10-2015 at 00:32 IST