In a major push towards a Made-in-India GPS alternative, the government through MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and IT) has invited manufacturers to design and supply 10 lakh integrated NavIC chips to promote a more domestic home-grown positioning technology.
NavIC, short for Navigation with Indian Constellation has been designed by ISRO. It uses India’s own navigation satellite to provide a more accurate and private positioning service in the country as well as in surrounding regions extending up to 1,500 km. NavIC has a dual-frequency (S and L bands). As such it is not dependent on one model to find frequency error and is more accurate than GPS.
“MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and IT) seeks proposals from bidder to design, manufacture, supply and maintain Integrated NavIC and GPS chips and ensure deployment of Integrated NavIC and GPS receivers,” the request for proposal document said. Subsidies will also be provided to the qualified bidder.
According to the document, the NavIC chips will improve “overall signal availability and position accuracy in urban areas” and also support messaging facilities, unlike GPS.
“Also, the NavIC system is totally under Indian control, which is a major requirement for a sovereign country,” the document said.
For now, there’s no further information as to what machines/equipment these chips are to be used in, however, the encouragement to manufacture the chips on home soil is surely a good move for a vital positioning technology as NavIC and its future. The use of NavIC chips was made compulsory for commercial vehicles in 2019.
Earlier this year, aside from Realme, some other OEMs including Xiaomi announced plans to bring new Snapdragon 865-powered devices to include NavIC support on their flagships. Moreover, Qualcomm announced in January that phones with Snapdragon 720G, Snapdragon 662, and Snapdragon 460 system-on-chip (SoC) models will support NavIC.