In a significant move toward technological self-reliance, India’s Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, has declared that all smartphones must integrate support for NavIC, the indigenous navigation system, by the close of 2025. This mandate comes on the heels of Apple’s successful incorporation of NavIC in its latest iPhone 15 models, marking a pivotal moment for India’s space technology.
NavIC, an acronym for Navigation with Indian Constellation, stands as a remarkable achievement by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). With a constellation of seven satellites encompassing India and its neighboring regions, including the vast Indian Ocean expanse, NavIC promises not only precision but also resilience in navigation.
The Minister affirmed that 5G smartphones must incorporate NavIC by January 1, 2025, while all other mobile devices must follow suit by December 2025. This directive underscores India’s commitment to fostering technological innovation and reducing reliance on foreign navigation systems.
Furthermore, Chandrasekhar hinted at potential incentives for companies embracing Indian-made or -designed NavIC-supporting chips in their system designs. This move aligns with the government’s strategy of incentivizing domestic chip utilization, as witnessed in the IT hardware Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.
Chandrasekhar stated, “In line with the incentives that we have announced under the IT hardware PLI, we will extend the same idea to the smartphone PLI as well for using domestic chips that support NavIC. We want to create an incentive structure that will encourage companies under the PLI schemes to use NavIC-supporting chips designed or made in India.”
The inclusion of NavIC in smartphones is envisioned to contribute to the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India) initiative, fostering homegrown technology in the fiercely competitive global smartphone market.
The IT hardware PLI scheme offers additional incentives to companies that produce laptops, computers, and servers, and source locally-made components, including chips. Chandrasekhar implied that similar incentives could be introduced for smartphone manufacturers in an updated version of the scheme.
“When we have a mobile phone grid chip, which is performance-competitive and cost-competitive, we will certainly incentivize mobile phone devices to incorporate that as well,” he emphasized.
The government has already made NavIC mandatory in the automobile sector for GPS use, ensuring its broader adoption. Chandrasekhar clarified that the requirement is not exclusive but complementary to existing GPS systems, including the US’s Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), the European Union’s Galileo, China’s BeiDou, and Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS).
NavIC’s network is poised for expansion, with plans to introduce more satellites, enabling its availability beyond India’s borders. This development opens doors for NavIC’s global utilization, now with the endorsement of tech giants like Apple.
Apple’s adoption of NavIC in its iPhone 15 models signals a turning point, with other prominent Chinese smartphone brands, including Xiaomi, Poco, Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus, already integrating NavIC into select models. Most smartphones facilitate the use of multiple navigation systems for developers, and with NavIC’s growing prominence, the doors for its global expansion are flung wide open.
Minister Chandrasekhar highlighted India’s remarkable achievements in space technology, including the successful launch of Chandrayaan 3 and ISRO’s maiden solar mission, Aditya L1. He emphasized, “The mainstream acceptance of the NavIC technology showcases India’s growing prowess as a space nation.”
India’s push for universal NavIC adoption in smartphones by 2025, coupled with incentives for domestic chip utilization, signifies a remarkable step toward technological self-sufficiency and reinforces the nation’s standing as a burgeoning space and tech powerhouse.