Department of Telecom (DoT) has made it compulsory for all the mobile phones to have GPS since January 1, 2018. Apart from GPS, it is also mandatory for phones to have a physical panic button on every device.

The move comes on the back of security concerns, especially involving women, as mandating GPS would enable phones to have better location accuracy while under surveillance.

However, the decision comes as a setback for handset makers who say the move will increase the cost of feature phones by at least 30 percent.

Interestingly, Telecom Regularity Authority of India (TRAI) in October 2015 had pushed device manufacturers to make GPS mandatory in handsets. However, DoT rejected the proposal citing lack of proper studies and impact of such a decision.

Why are the manufacturers unhappy?

Device manufacturers have urged the government against DoT’s decision as they suggest the move will increase the cost of feature devices by at least 30 percent.

Feature phones are basic phones which are available in the market at a price band of around Rs 500 to Rs 1,500. Post the move, manufacturers expect cost of the devices to escalate at least by Rs 400, which companies will have to pass on to the customer.

Instead, the device makers are suggesting an alternate option of implementing triangulation of telecom towers method to locate devices. The plus point with this method is that it can work even with no data connection.

However, DoT argues that triangulation method is inaccurate, unlike GPS.

The government, in its arguments, mentioned that safety and security of women and elders are of ‘utmost importance’ and it has refused to entertain any further representation from the industry on this matter.

What is GPS?

GPS or Global Positioning System is a technology which was developed by United States’ Department of Defense. It involves satellites orbiting Earth transmit microwave signals thereby enabling GPS receivers in the mobile handset to relay its current location, velocity and time with high level of accuracy.

Accuracy of GPS can be judged by the fact that it is not only able to identify on which street a device is located, but also the side of the street.

Many mid and higher end mobile phones now not only come with GPS but are also equipped with advanced GPS, known as A-GPS or Assisted GPS.

Though assisted GPS works on the same principles as regular GPS what differentiates both are A-GPS’ increased speed. A-GPS connects to the internet and makes use of data thereby improving its required time to start-up tremendously. – Money Control


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