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GPS to be mandatory on all phones by 2018; Panic buttons by 2017

The Department of Telecom has made it mandatory for all mobile phones sold in the country from 1st January 2018 to have GPS in built. Additionally, all phones will also need to have a physical panic button. The panic button requirement will be implemented from the 1st of January 2017. Feature phones will need to implement it by configuring keys 5 or 9 to play the dual role of a panic button, while smartphones will need to configure the on-off button to trigger panic signal when pressed thrice in quick succession. The TRAI had asked for a definitive date to make GPS and a panic button mandatory on all phones in October last year. Note that it’s not clear if the who the panic button is supposed to call, but we expect it will be the local police station and possibly a preconfigured number of a relative or friend. The ministry will also work with smartphone makers to make the feature available in existing phones through a software patch. However, this isn’t a practical solution for feature phones. Mandatory location based servers: Interestingly, back in 2013, the DoT had asked all telecom operators to install Location Based Servers (LBS) at the earliest to aid location based tracking of calls up to 50 meters in real time. This was after all the telecom companies failed to meet the deadline for installing LBS in 2012 owing to the high cost of installation. As we had said then, the issue of installing Location…

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