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Govt invites proposals for design, manufacture of 10 lakh NavIC chips

The Indian government has invited proposals for the manufacture of receiver chips that have GPS and NavIC, in an attempt to improve the overall signal availability of positioning systems, and increase the use of the indigenous positioning system. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has floated a request for proposal (RFP) for the manufacture of 10 lakh receiver chips.

The government hopes to use the NavIC-integrated receivers for areas such as navigation on land, air and water, disaster management, vehicle tracking, location services on mobile phones, and so on.

“Government of India envisages commercialization of NavIC user receivers to promote an indigenous positioning technology. Integrated NavIC and GPS receiver chip will improve overall signal availability and position accuracy in urban areas and will also support additional messaging facility unlike GPS-only receiver chip,” the document reads.  It noted that NavIC, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is “totally under Indian control”, as opposed to GPS technology, which is operated by the United States.

10 lakh chips to be made; 14 months to test proof of concept

Bidders will be required to manufacture, supply, deploy, and maintain as many as 10 lakh integrated receivers. More than one company can form a consortium to meet the scope of work, which has been divided into three phases:

  • Development phase: Each bidder would have to design and develop a proof of concept within 14 months. Designs will then be approved by the ISRO. Another four months will be given to bidders to test and demonstrate the readiness of the receivers at a commercial level.
  • Implementation phase: Bidder(s) who get to this stage will have to deploy 25% of the awarded quantity (~2.5 lakh receivers) every six months. This phase will continue for two years.
  • Support phase: The devices will need to be supported for three years from the date of sale.

Push for NavIC

NavIC was designed and developed to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign positioning technology, after the US denied to give crucial GPS information during the Kargil war in 1999. Presently, the government is trying to increase adoption of the system.

Qualcomm, one of the largest chipmakers in the world, had made NavIC-capable chipsets that can be used in mobile phones. Several mobile phone manufacturers such as RealMe and Xiaomi have already integrated NavIC into their devices. Earlier this month, NavIC moved a closer to global acceptance when it became a component of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS). This enables merchant vessels to use NavIC for navigation in ocean waters, similar to GPS and Russia’s GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System).

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