Global standards body 3GPP, which develops protocols for mobile telephony, has approved India’s regional navigation system NaVIC, developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).
The specification approval will boost commercial use of NaVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) by international and domestic mobile device makers, which means such manufacturers can now mass-produce navigation devices compatible with NaVIC so that users of these devices can easily access desi GPS or NaVIC signals.
During its meeting in California from September 16 to 20, 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) had approved the inclusion of NavIC in Rel-16 LTE and Rel-17 5G NR specifications. Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI), will soon adopt these specifications as a national standard, and cellular internet-of-things devices will begin to use the NavIC system in contrast to the American GPS system.
Isro chairman K Sivan told TOI, “We are extremely happy to know about the 3GPP approval of NaVIC. NaVIC is fully operational and is doing a great job. Currently, eight satellites are already in orbit. Seven satellites are being used for navigation purpose and one satellite only for messaging purpose. Some apps based on NaVIC are already functional and being immensely used. Soon, we will bring out more NaVIC apps that will benefit the common man.”
3GPP comprises seven telecommunications standard development organisations (ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TSDSI, TTA, TTC) from across the world and provides their members with a stable environment to produce specifications that define 3GPP technologies. 3GPP currently has global navigation satellite system support from BDS (Chinese), Galileo (European), GLONASS (Russian) & GPS (US) for cellular positioning systems.
The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NavIC is capable of providing accurate position information service to users across India and the region extending up to 1,500 km around the country. IRNSS applications are terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, integration with mobile phones, precise timing, mapping and geodetic data capture, terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers and visual and voice navigation for drivers.
The implications of NavIC acceptance by 3GPP would bring NavIC technology to the commercial market for its use in 4G, 5G and Internet of Things (IoT). Indian companies and startups will have an opportunity to design integrated circuits (ICs) and products based on NavIC. The potential market for these chipsets and products will be huge as they can be exported to other countries as well. This will result in a significant increase in NavIC usage and uptake of NavIC-enabled services and applications throughout the country, said a statement from Broadband India Forum (BIF), a think tank for Digital Transformation.
With TSDSI preparing to adopt these 3GPP specifications and develop our own national standard, the market is likely to be flooded with smart phones and cellular-internet-of-things (cellular IoT) devices that use location information—all of which will begin to use the Indian standard, the statement said. It will alleviate security concerns of the country, as from now onwards India need not depend on the US or European satellites for commercial operations, the statement read.
Hailing the NaVIC approval as a “historic step as it placed India’s indigenous standard development on the global map”, BIF president TV Ramachandran said, “The applications of NavIC have the potential to bring immense benefits to everyone in the country and the entire region.”
He said, “I would like to extend my warm felicitation to Isro, TSDSI, the Indian members of 3GPP; Reliance Jio, professor Kiran Kuchi of IIT Hyderabad; and Satish Jamadagni, vice-chairman of TSDSI and VP (standardisation) for playing a pivotal role in getting this proposal accepted in a timely manner for adoption in global 4G and 5G standards. This event is a watershed moment for India since we join the exclusive GNSS club comprising the US, EU, China and Russia, who depend on their own satellites for navigation applications in their respective regions.”