India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) has approved plans which will require all mobile handsets to feature GPS from 1st January 2018.
The green light has been granted despite the protestations of device manufacturers, who argue that lower end feature phones could see a price jump of as much as 30% if they require GPS implementation. The devices are widespread in India due to their low cost, accounting for as much as 55% of India’s 245 million mobile phone shipments in 2016.
Handset makers have claimed that adding in GPS functionality to feature phones could push up their retail prices by as much as INR400 ($6). The low-spec devices are typically priced affordably, in the INR500 ($8) to INR1,500 ($23) bracket.
The government responded in a letter to the Indian Cellular Association - which represents the majority of India’s device manufacturers – by saying that the decision was final, and that device security and user safety were its main priority.
In addition to the GPS requirement, in April last year the government stipulated that all handsets must feature a panic button. The deadline for the addition of this feature was January 2017, and the country’s vendors have complied with the order.