Citing consumer safety, DoT insists on installing GPS in every feature phone

By : |July 10, 2017 0

The Department of Telecom(DoT) has made it compulsory to install Global Positioning System(GPS) in all mobile phones including the feature phones sold in India from January 1, 2018 so as to locate subscribers during emergency situations, rejecting a plea from handset makers that adding the GPS facility to all mobile phones would increase their prices by 50 percent.

“GPS is the main tool regarding location details of the subscriber during emergency situations, so the government has decided to implement it in all mobile devices from January 1, 2018,” DoT said in a reply to the Indian Cellular Association (ICA).

“It is reiterated that all mobile phone handset makers should adhere to the 2nd part of the notification dated April 22, 2016, for implementation of GPS facility in all mobile phone handsets sold in India from January 1, 2018. The representation in this regards will not be entertained in the future,” the department added. The government had sought installation of a panic button and location sharing facility on all phones, aimed at providing safety to women in times of distress.

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However, the handset makers petitioned against the government’s move of introducing GPS function in all mobile phones as it will push the cost of a feature phone by as much as Rs 400 hurting the sales. If the GPS is to be introduced, then the end consumer has to pay at least30 percent more. The ICA, which represents the majority of mobile phone companies in India said that feature phones retail for Rs500-Rs700. Adding GPS in such phones will increase the production cost to $9-11 per unit.

Handset makers had even suggested using an alternate method of triangulation of telecom towers to detect location when there’s no data connection available. But DoT argued that Public Safety Awareness Point operator – part of the central system to handle distress calls on emergency number 112 – cannot accurately detect the location using the triangulation method as effectively as it can with GPS.

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