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NEW DELHI: India is pushing tech giants to make smartphones compatible with its home-grown navigation system within months, worrying the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple who fear elevated costs and disruptions as the move requires hardware changes, according to two industry sources and government documents seen by Reuters.

In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive for self-reliance, India has over the years expanded the use of its regional navigation satellite system called NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation).

The Indian government wants to reduce dependence on foreign systems, including the widely used US Global Positioning System (GPS), and says NavIC provides more accurate domestic navigation and that its use would benefit the economy.

China, the European Union, Japan and Russia have their own global or regional navigation systems to rival GPS. Operational since 2018, NavIC’s uptake is minimal; it is mandated in public vehicle location trackers, for example.

But government and industry documents show Modi’s administration and space officials want to broaden its use, and have this year pushed smartphone giants to make hardware changes to support NavIC, in addition to GPS, in new phones they will sell from January 2023.

In private meetings in August and September, representatives of Apple Inc, Xiaomi Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and others pushed back, citing worries that making phones NavIC-compliant would mean higher research and production costs.

The changes would also require more testing clearances, which with a Jan. 1 deadline would disrupt businesses and planned launches, according to two smartphone industry sources and documents.

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