Volume IconWhat is NaVIC?

Mobile manufacturers assured the govt that they will install NavIC -- a navigation system developed by ISRO - in new 5G devices. NavIC is India's alternative to GPS. Let us find out more about it

ImageRaghav Aggarwal New Delhi
satellite, orbit,

Photo: Shutterstock

The Global Positioning System or GPS has become entrenched in our daily life. Whether we want to maneuver traffic, or find a restaurant, it has made our life easier. But did you ever wonder who owns the GPS or who runs it?

Originally Navstar GPS, the Global Positioning System is a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the US government. And the United States Space Force operates it.

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India has found its homegrown alternative to the GPS in the form of NavIC. The government is taking rapid steps to enhance its adoption. 

What is NavIC?
NavIC stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation. It is an independent navigation satellite system developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). NavIC consists of eight satellites and covers the entire India. Additionally, it covers up to 1,500 km from its boundaries.

When was NavIC started?
NavIC was originally approved in 2006 with a $174 million budget. It was expected to be completed by late 2011. But it only became operational in 2018.
How is NavIC used?
Currently, NavIC is being used to track public vehicles in India. It is also used to send emergency warning alerts to fishermen venturing into the sea where there is no terrestrial network connectivity. Also, it is being used for tracking and providing information in case of natural disasters. Off late, the Centre is pushing smartphone companies to adopt NavIC in India.

NavIC vs GPS and others
GPS provides global coverage but NavIC is currently limited to India and the adjacent areas. Three more navigational systems offer global coverage like the GPS. These are Galileo from the European Union, Russia-owned GLONASS and China’s Beidou.

Japan’s QZSS provides navigational coverage of Asia-Pacific with a special focus on Japan.

Why is the government vouching for NavIC?
The government is aiming to remove foreign dependence on India’s navigational requirements. It is more important in the case of strategic sectors. The centre believes that relying on GPS and others like it may not be wise for India as they are operated by defence agencies of their respective countries. 

First Published: Sep 29 2022 | 07:00 AM IST

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