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The Future of NavIC Satellite Navigation System in 2023

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has created the NavIC Satellite Navigation System for both military and commercial use. The Indian government has previously mandated that all smartphones must have NavIC installed by January 1st, 2023.

The Center had claimed in August that NavIC’s position accuracy is on par with that of the GPS. According to the 2021 satellite navigation policy, the government will seek to increase coverage to guarantee that the NavIC signal is available anywhere in the world.

The Narendra Modi administration is pushing for a “Made In India” navigation system to be included in all new products sold in the nation starting in 2019. As a replacement for the widely used Global Positioning Service (GPS) Navigation System, NavIC is promoted.

Since the current chipsets in the handsets are designed to support frequency bands suitable for GPS and the Russian system GLONASS, the decision has already shocked the smartphone manufacturers, who point to cost concerns.

The ministry of electronics and information technology stated after multiple media reports said the Center had requested the smartphone manufacturers to make sure their products were compatible with NavIC within months.

According to a conference transcript cited in a media story, cell carriers were ordered to make smartphones NavIC-compatible within months. This is to make clear:

  • There is no set schedule.
  • The cited meeting was consultative.
  • The matter is being discussed with all parties.

According to the Centre, NavIC will end reliance on foreign navigation systems. The “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in line with this navigation system. Ten things regarding this native navigation system are listed below.

Table of content

10 Highlights of NavIC Satellite Navigation System

  1. The Indian Space Research Organization created the Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC), a separate standalone navigation satellite system. According to Reuters, it was first sanctioned in 2006 for $174 million (1,426 crores) and was scheduled to be finished by late 2011. It started to function in 2018.
  2. Eight satellites make up NavIC, which covers the whole Indian subcontinent and up to 1,500 kilometers outside its borders. Its application is now restricted to tracking public transportation, sending out emergency alerts to fishermen sailing out to sea, and monitoring and sharing information regarding natural disasters.
  3. The difference between NavIC and GPS is that the latter serves customers worldwide and has satellites that orbit the planet twice daily. However, NavIC is currently utilized in India and surrounding regions.
  4. The Center had claimed in August that NavIC’s position accuracy is on par with that of the GPS. According to the 2021 satellite navigation policy, the government will seek to increase coverage to guarantee that the NavIC signal is available anywhere in the world.
  5. According to India, the goal of NavIC was to end the country’s reliance on foreign satellite navigation systems.
  6. Reuters claims that because the move necessitates hardware upgrades, tech behemoths like Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple are concerned about increased costs and interruptions.
  7. The representatives of these IT behemoths had expressed concerns about greater research and production expenses associated with producing NavIC-compliant cellphones during private discussions in August and September.
  8. The smartphone industry players reportedly requested time until 2025 to put the measures into effect. The Centre has also made it clear that no deadline has been set and that talks with all parties involved are in progress.
  9. NavIC technology is now supported by a small number of chipsets, including the Snapdragon mobile platforms 720G, 662, and 460, according to PTI.
  10. The Centre has indicated that relying on navigation systems like GPS and Russian GLONASS may not always be dependable because those are run by the respective countries’ defense agencies and it is possible that the civilian services may be denied or degraded, according to a Reuters article. According to the government, India controls every aspect of NavIC.

About NavIC

Country of OriginIndia
OperatorISRO
First Launch1 July 2013
Total Satellites8
Satellites in Orbit7
Total Launches9
Last Launch12 April 2018

What is NavIC?

The abbreviation NavIC, which stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation, is a well-known nickname for India’s GPS substitute.

The project is called IRNSS, which stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.

A regional navigation satellite system called NavIC was developed by India for India. ISRO created it for precise real-time messaging, timing, and positioning. It serves as a substitute for the US-developed and -operated GPS (Global Positioning System).

The main distinction between NavIC and GPS is that the former was created primarily for India and a few of its neighbors, whereas GPS (US) provides coverage for every location on the planet.

To avoid becoming overly dependent on US technologies, India developed its navigation system. After seven years of arduous testing and development, India has officially made NavIC operational. Other nations have already installed their navigation satellite systems.

For instance, China and India both operate regional navigation systems called BeiDou, while Russia runs the global navigation system GLONASS. Europe runs the global navigation system Galileo. While India is now concentrating on its region and its neighbors, ISRO wants to expand the coverage area worldwide in the upcoming years.

Why was NavIC Developed?

ISRO created NavIC to improve location accuracy, primarily for military operations but also for civilian use. The US government does not provide other nations access to sensitive GPS data, which is what gave rise to NavIC.

When Pakistani forces occupied Kargil in 1999, India asked the US for GPS data on the area, but this request was turned down. This helped India understand how crucial having a homegrown satellite navigation system was, which led to the creation of NavIC.

How NavIC Works?

Don’t be concerned about the technicality and continue reading as we explain the NavIC satellite navigation technology.

  • First of all, there are currently 7 satellites in the NavIC constellation, all of which are located in the Earth’s high orbit, roughly 35 thousand kilometers above the surface.
  • Additionally, every satellite has a clear view of India.
  • By rotating the satellites at a set speed, ISRO can maintain a flawless line of sight.
  • The orbital period of the Earth is exactly matched by the satellites’ rotational speed, which is one full rotation in 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds.
  • Three of the seven satellites are in geostationary orbit and have a steady line of sight with the base station in India.
  • Four of the satellites are in a geosynchronous orbit that is inclined to the equator at a 29-degree angle.
  • Interestingly, the motion of four satellites moving at the specified inclination resembles the figure of eight, often known as the analemma in astronomy.
  • Returning to the NavIC satellites, each one is equipped with three Rubidium Atomic clocks, which are essential instruments that use radio frequencies to measure distance, time, and your specific position on Earth.
  • The most important finding from the functioning mechanism is that, unlike GPS, NavIC satellites always maintain a straight line of sight with India, leading to extremely accurate localization, quicker latching, and greater penetration in populated regions.

Will the Prices Of Smartphones Increase With NavIC?

The Indian government has previously pushed a few smartphone makers to include NavIC in their devices through private discussions. On the other hand, smartphone manufacturers claim that in addition to a phone’s processor, NavIC needs a lot of other parts to function on a smartphone.

However, a few specific chipsets, such as this year’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, are already available on the market and support NavIC.

The NavIC addition may increase the price of flagship phones with top-tier chipsets. Price increases are predicted for the budget and mid-range categories.

NavIC is currently exclusively used to provide services like public vehicle tracking and emergency alert delivery in locations without terrestrial network connectivity, like at sea. The next objective is to open up NavIC to the general public for commercial use.

Why is India promoting NavIC?

According to India, the purpose of NavIC was to end reliance on foreign satellite systems for navigation service needs, especially for “strategic sectors.”

According to India, relying on systems like GPS and GLONASS may not always be safe because they are administered by the defense departments of various countries and there is a chance that civilian services could be restricted or refused.

“NavIC is a homegrown navigation system that is managed by India. The possibility of the service being discontinued or refused in a specific circumstance is nonexistent, the government declared in 2021.

India also intends to support local businesses working on NavIC-based solutions by encouraging its ministries to use NavIC applications.

Why India Is Pushing Smartphone Makers To Support NavIC?

To make NavIC a common service on par with GPS, India has aggressively promoted it. NavIC was created in part because India wanted to lessen its reliance on foreign systems like GPS (which is owned by the US) by developing its technology. Access to foreign government-controlled global navigation satellite systems is not always assured in hostile environments.

Before that, India wants IT companies to make their products compatible with the new standard to help it increase NavIC coverage abroad.

In July, the NavIC Grand Challenge for Indian startups was introduced by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and ISRO. The goal of the challenge was to encourage the use of NavIC as a geopositioning tool.

What Are The Concerns Of Smartphone Makers?

According to reports, smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, Xiaomi, and Samsung, worry that adding NavIC support will sharply raise the cost of manufacturing their products.

Furthermore, the corporations argue that the January 2023 deadline is excessively severe because deploying such technologies would necessitate “additional testing clearances.”

Additionally, new chipsets and other hardware modifications are needed to support NavIC, and the majority of businesses are “already prepared for models to be launched in 2024.” According to a Reuters story that cited a Samsung executive, it won’t be practical to install NavIC on smartphones until 2025.

Tech firms are also concerned about the frequency at which the NavIC system operates. The L5 satellite frequency is now used by the Indian government but much less frequently by cellphones (Apple now supports L5 with iPhone 14 Pro and Apple Watch Ultra). India is being urged by the firms to use the L1 frequency, which is the same as the GPS frequency.

GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou are already supported by several handsets, including the iPhone. However, as these systems were introduced much earlier than NavIC, it took some time for smartphone manufacturers to add support for them to their products.

You will be able to use NavIC through your cell phones as it will soon be available as a feature on mobile chipsets. Although NavIC is a back-end technology, you will still be using Google Maps or another program of a similar nature, so you won’t notice much of a difference.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G, Snapdragon 662, and Snapdragon 460 are new chipsets that support NavIC. These three chipsets support the dual-frequency Global Navigation Satellite Systems L1 (1.58 GHz) and L5 (1.17 GHz) (GNSS).

L5 band and S-band are used by NavIC (2.5 GHz). Therefore, these chips are made to support the NavIC standard right out of the box.

The support for NavIC on Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 865 SoC has caused some dispute, but the American chipmaker has recently clarified that “Snapdragon 865 is NaviC capable with the final software upgrade arriving to our OEMs around April 2020.”

How to check NavIC support on your smartphone?

  • Download the GSPTest or GNSSTest apps for your Android phone.
  • To be certain that NavIC is supported, you can install either one or both of them.
  • Open the installed app and select “Start Test.”
  • The application will now begin to detect all of the available navigation satellites.
  • If the app displays Indian satellites, your phone is compatible with NavIC.

This appears to be the simplest method for determining whether your smartphone supports NavIC. Only a small number of smartphones currently support this new navigation capability, but as more and more products are launched with recently released chipsets, more and more devices are anticipated to enable NavIC on their smartphones.

How the Government Is Pushing NavIC Adoption

Since NavIC enables enforcement agencies to monitor vehicles, which is not possible with global systems like GPS, it is already employed in public vehicle tracking systems in India.

All commercial vehicles in the nation are required to have NavIC-based vehicle trackers as of April 2019, according to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The DGCA changed the drone regulations for India in August 2021, making it obligatory to use made-in-India products, such as NavIC.

India is attempting to promote the usage of its NavIC satellite navigation system through a new draught policy. The ISRO revisions include the draught Indian Satellite Navigation Policy 2021 (SATNAV Policy 2021).

Benefits and Applications of NavIC

A native navigation system like NavIC would be useful for the military to break its reliance on GPS developed in the US as well as for general navigation.

India-made 2006 saw the initial approval of NavIC, which cost $174. It just recently started to run, in 2018. NavIC is now only used to monitor public traffic, provide emergency warning notifications, and respond to natural disasters. It is currently made up of eight satellites.

It is asserted that NavIC enables faster time-to-first-fix (TTFF) position acquisition and more precise location performance. It is compared to the US-based GPS, Russia’s Glonass, and Europe’s Galileo because it has seven satellites.

Additionally, it will provide better-quality location-based services. In the main service area, the system is said to have position accuracy better than 20 meters. In contrast, GPS-enabled cellphones with 24 satellites can be precise to within 4.9 meters.

Other applications of the system include:

  • Aircraft and ship navigation
  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Business fleet management and vehicle tracking
  • Better Timing
  • more accurate geodetic data collection and mapping
  • Terrestrial hiking and traveler navigation help
  • Drivers can use voice and visual navigation.

Why Some Countries Are Looking Beyond GPS?

Many nations utilize GPS to precisely track and monitor the location and path of navigation, but some nations are investigating, testing, and installing satellites to improve their positioning capabilities.

As an illustration, Russia has completely operationalized GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema, or Global Navigation Satellite System).

The European Union began rolling out the Galileo system in 2016 and intends to shortly finish the system of about 24 satellites. China’s BeiDou, or BDS, was officially launched in 2020, while Japan’s QZSS (Quasi-Zenith Satellite System) services were launched in 2018 with four operational satellites.

Will NavIC Support be extended to older phones with a software update?

No. NavIC integration necessitates hardware upgrades to the chipset because Navic operates in a separate frequency range. A Qualcomm spokesperson told Smartprix that OTA updates cannot transfer support to older phones.

Is NavIC better than GPS?

Without a doubt, sure. While most people assume that GPS has an accuracy of up to 20 meters, NavIC can achieve an accuracy of up to 5 to 10 meters. In addition to accuracy, NavIC is believed to have a quicker latch-on time, or Time To First Fix in technical terms (TTFF). This implies that even in busy urban areas with several tall buildings and barriers, NavIC can pinpoint your location faster than GPS.

Does NavIC require additional hardware to work?

Yes, NavIC requires a dedicated dual-GNSS module with L5 band capability to operate. A separate chip that enables this may be included by the manufacturer or embedded into the SoC itself.

Why do we need NaVIC when Google Maps is there for free?

The GPS technology used by Google Maps is American. Dependence on another nation is never a smart idea because they can easily stop providing services at any time. India asked the US in 1999 during the Kargil War for information about enemy locations, but the US refused. India became aware of the importance of having its navigation system as a result.

Which other countries have their navigation systems?

Along with GPS, other satellite navigation systems include Galileo in Europe, GLONASS in Russia, Beidou in China, and QZSS in Japan.

NavICGPS
NavIC is for India.GPS is for Global use.
It covers 10-20 meters for civilian use.It covers 5 meters for civilian use.
The military will have more precision.No official data for military use.
The orbital height is 36,000 Km.The orbital height is 20,180 km.
NavIC has a total of 7 satellitesGPS has a total of 31 operational satellites 
NavIC uses L5 frequency to locate devices like smartphones and commercial vehicles and S-band frequency for military use which is encrypted.GPS uses L1 and L5 frequencies for both general and military use.
NavIC has a position accuracy of 5-20 meters for general users and 0.5 meters for military uses.GPS also has a similar position accuracy of fewer than 20 meters but can get better with Cellular triangulation.

Are There Any Issues with NavIC?

Since there are no commercial products on the market currently, we do not have any user experiences to share. However, there were reports of Atomic clock failure in the NavIC satellites in 2016 and 2017. The Galileo satellites of the European Union experienced a similar occurrence. ISRO is only using one Atomic clock on each satellite and retaining the other two clocks as backups to avoid the problem. Further improvements have been made to the Atomic clocks on the two ground-based standby satellites.

Does Google Maps support NavIC?

Yes. Any navigation app, including Google Maps, doesn’t need to update its software to offer NavIC-based navigation. Out of the box, it will function.

Conclusion

The NavIC Satellite Navigation System was developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for both military and commercial applications. The Narendra Modi administration wants all new goods sold in the country beginning in 2019 to come with a “Made in India” navigation system.

A stand-alone navigation satellite system is called Navigation using Indian Constellation (NavIC). It was first approved in 2006 for a cost of $174 million (1,426 crores), and completion was targeted for 2011. Currently, its uses are limited to monitoring and disseminating information about natural catastrophes, issuing emergency alerts to fishermen, and tracking public transportation.

A regional navigation satellite system for India and its neighbors, NavIC, has been launched by India’s Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The US-developed and operated GPS is replaced by NavIC.

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