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  • Writer's picturebidyut gogoi

What ISRO is doing to boost the use of NavIC, India’s version of GPS

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will include the L1 frequency in all of its future satellites to promote the use of "NAVigation with the Indian Constellation" (NavIC), the Indian version of GPS, Union Minister of State for the Department of Space Jitendra Singh recently stated in Parliament.

How would using the L1 frequency affect using NavIC? When compared to GPS, how precise is NavIC? We clarify.

What exactly is ISRO doing :

Two frequencies, the L5 and S bands, are used by the seven satellites in the NavIC constellation so far to provide positional information. These satellites' replacements, the future NVS-01 satellites and thereafter, will likewise carry L1 frequency. Even less complex, consumer-grade gadgets like smartwatches may pick up the L1 signal, which is the oldest and most reliable GPS signal. The usage of NavIC in devices for civilian use can therefore increase with this band.

And what is NavIC?:

NavIC is India's in-house version of GPS. The navigation satellite system, created by ISRO, was initially authorised in 2006 at a cost of $174 million, but it wasn't until 2018 that it started to function. It now has eight satellites and covers all of India as well as areas up to 1,500 km from its borders.

According to the government, NavIC is just as accurate as GPS. Singh reaffirmed that the "performance of NavIC system is on par with the other positioning systems" in his response to Parliament.

Where is NavIC being used right now?:

Additionally, the government is promoting its expanded usage in cellphones. In fact, according to a September article from Reuters, the government's push for tech companies to make cellphones NavIC-compatible "worried the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple, who anticipate increased costs and interruptions since the transition needs hardware upgrades." The government reportedly demanded that handsets support both NavIC and GPS by January 2023, which phone manufacturers claimed was an extremely challenging date to accomplish.

Advantages of NavIC:

In a nutshell, the government claims that India shouldn't rely on positioning systems operated by foreign governments since they face the danger of being suspended for civilians during emergencies. Additionally, NavIC will be more accurate than other systems because it was developed in-house.

Other notable navigation systems include China's Beidou, the European Union's Galileo, and Russia's GLONASS, in addition to the US-owned GPS. Another regional navigation system serving the Asia-Oceania region is QZSS, which is run by Japan.

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