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What is NavIC? India's own GPS System - All things you should know

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NavIC - Satellite Navigation System
Navigation with Indian Constellation, or NavIC, is India's very own regional satellite navigation system. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), NavIC provides autonomous geospatial positioning capabilities, much like the globally used GPS system.

With its constellation of 7 satellites, NavIC gives users in India and the surrounding regions highly accurate location information that can be used for navigation, mapping and timing services. In this post, we will dive into the details of this indigenous sat nav system - how it works, its features, and how you can use it today.

What is NavIC?

NavIC stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation and is an independent regional satellite navigation system developed entirely in India. Analogous to the US' GPS, Russia's GLONASS and Europe's Galileo systems, it consists of a constellation of satellites that transmit precise time and location data that can be picked up by receivers on ground, sea and air.

NavIC was earlier known as the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

The Navic technology was developed by ISRO to reduce India’s dependency on foreign satellite navigation systems and provide an autonomous geo-positioning capability. The "I" in NavIC stands for Indian, highlighting its indigenous nature.

The NavIC constellation currently consists of 7 operational satellites in geostationary and geosynchronous orbits. The system uses the L5 (1176.45 MHz) and S band (2498.028 MHz) frequency bands for transmitting navigation signals. With additional satellite launches planned, NavIC aims to provide services over India and a region extending up to 1500 km around it.

NavIC provides accurate positioning and timing services within the coverage region, with a position accuracy of better than 20 meters over India. In comparison, GPS has a global average accuracy of under 10 meters.

NavIC Architecture

The NavIC architecture mainly consists of:

  • Space Segment
  • Ground Segment
  • User Segment
    NavIC architecture
    Image/ ISRO Satellite Navigation Programme

How to Use NavIC

For regular smartphone users, the easiest way to access NavIC capabilities is through the NavIC mobile app for Android. Developed by ISRO, it allows you to view your current location and use turn-by-turn navigation powered by NavIC.

For Android users, 

To use it, simply install the NavIC app on your Android phone through the Google Play store. On opening the app, it will display your latitude, longitude and altitude using NavIC positioning data. You can also plug in a destination to get point-to-point navigation assistance using NavIC and maps.

The above download link of the Android App is from Google PlayStore, but according to the app description, the NavIC app was last updated on year 2020. Be cautious about using the app.

For iPhone users

Apple announces iPhone 15 lineup and Series 9 Watch at September product launch event on 12th September 2023. It will be the first device that natively comes with the support of India's regional satellite system, Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC).

Soon after the Apple launch event, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that India had achieved two milestones with the launch of the iPhone 15, one was the phone is now made in India and the other, was the official support for India's autonomous satellite system.

Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar says, "The world's largest company in technology Apple has launched its new iPhone 15. During this launch, India is achieving two milestones. First, the availability of the iPhone 15 in India would be on the same day as the availability of it in New York and London...And the second is that the NavIC GPS  satellite system developed by ISRO would be present in the iPhone 15. - Ani quoted.

Beyond smartphones, NavIC modules and chips are being integrated into connected cars, fleet management systems, agricultural drones and more to power navigation and tracking applications.

Key Features and Capabilities of NavIC

Some of the key features and capabilities NavIC provides as India's homegrown sat nav system include:

  • Accurate real-time positioning and timing services without reliance on other GNSS systems.
  • Options for building indigenous navigation apps and devices based on NavIC.
  • No need for internet or cellular connectivity for basic NavIC usage.
  • Support in newest smartphone models from Apple, Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo and other brands.
  • Additional satellite launches are planned to expand coverage and enhance service quality.
  • Backward compatibility with GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite signals.

Indian Government Initiatives

ISRO and Qualcomm signed an agreement in 2020, to increase compatibility with existing hardware of mobile devices. ISRO added L1 band support to make the device compatible with NavIC integration. 

The Indian government also announced its plan to mandate NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) support for all mobile devices by 2025.

Reason Behind NavIC - From War to Business to Economy [Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative]

In 1999, when Pakistani troops took positions in Kargil, one of the first things the Indian military sought was the global positioning system data for the region. At that time, the space-based navigation system or GPS was maintained by the US government US denied providing some vital information regarding the positioning to India.

EcomnomicsTimes noted that India's need for an indigenous satellite navigation system was felt earlier, but the Kargil experience made India realise its importance.

Amid increasingly shifting geopolitical realities, it is crucial for India to be self-reliant in satellite navigation. But not just in war, where satellite navigation helps track enemy location and movement as well as guide precision weapons, a desi GPS helps the economy and business in a significant way.

So under the initiative of 'Atmanirbharta'  India has taken an important step, replacing the GPS (Global Positioning System) of the US which smartphone makers in India mostly use. Now India is making it mandatory for both smartphone and automakers to use NavIC. 

This initiative was started with Apple agreeing to incorporate NavIC, or Navigation with Indian Constellation, in its latest iPhone 15 smartphones.

NavIC could present new use cases for navigation-based gaming apps (similar to PokemonGo, Pikmin Bloom, Marvel’s Avengers, etc.) in India, TOI noted.

It can also help auto insurance companies to track vehicles they have mortgaged, advertising companies to develop better location-sensitive advertisements, and the travel and tourism industry to create location-based use cases such as improving guests’ experience by making the tour more informative and interactive. NavIC will also help India's drone industry grow and become more efficient, especially in drone delivery businesses


NavIC marks a major milestone for India in the field of satellite navigation. With its own fleet of satellites providing geo-positioning over the Indian mainland and beyond, India has a self-reliant, indigenous system to fulfill its navigation needs.

While still in the development and enhancement phases, NavIC adoption is growing through smartphone support and industry applications. 

For regular users, NavIC opens up the possibility of using India's own sat nav capability through mobile apps and connected devices. With new enhancements in the pipeline, NavIC aims to achieve higher accuracy and wider accessibility in the coming years.

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