Sector regulator TRAI today stood by its proposal of a sunset date for making GPS mandatory in all handsets, which can help find out exact location of the caller in an emergency.
The proposal was rejected by the Department of Telecom (DoT), saying there is a major percentage of low-cost handsets with subscribers which do not support GPS and the impact of enabling all mobile phone handsets with GPS may be studied before taking a call on the issue. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in April came out with recommendations on making 112 as the single emergency number.
TRAI proposed implementation of public safety answering point (PSAP) based integrated emergency communication and response system (IECRS) in the country, which will be accessed through a single emergency number 112. The Authority had proposed that DoT may consider mandating a transition to global positioning systems (GPS) enabled handsets in a certain timeframe to obtain more accurate location information of the caller.
Reiterating its proposal on GPS, TRAI said most of the smartphones already have GPS, but this facility is not available in low-cost handsets. According to handset manufacturers, feature phones are slowly being replaced, with users shifting to smartphones, and introducing a GPS chip in handsets should not be very costly once it is mandated, all manufacturers start making it and ‘economy of scale’ is achieved. The Authority further said the Ministry of Home Affairs has also felt that mandating GPS-based handsets would help find a location more accurately. “Therefore, a sunset date may be decided by the government so that manufacturers can incorporate the GPS feature in all mobile handsets for having accurate location information of the caller,” TRAI said.
DoT had written to TRAI to reconsider its views on some of these issues. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently released the guidelines for Nationwide Emergency Response System (NERS). It has also invited request for proposals (RFP) for selection of IT service provider for the project. “Taking into consideration these developments, the Authority has formulated its opinion,” TRAI said. TRAI had proposed that a single number 112 can be used for all emergency phone calls across the country, including the police, fire and ambulance.
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