The Economic Times reports that the government will soon give way to a three-way partnership between Russia's NIS GLONASS, BSNL, and MTNL to introduce navigation services in India. The ET has reviewed an internal telecom note, which reads, “A draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) between NIS Glonass, BSNL and MTNL for provision of satellite navigation services is being considered by the government.” The note adds that the Russian government recently informed the foreign ministry about making the GLONASS system available to the global community for free use. 

Bringing navigation to India (Image credit: Getty Images)

Bringing navigation to India (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Interestingly, Russia is in plans to roll out GPS-like, satellite-based information services on the GLONASS system in international markets such as India. GLONASS or Global Navigation Satellite System is a system with 23 operational satellites deployed for delivering information services. 

Citing information from a top official in the Russian embassy, the ET shared, “the formation of this three-way partnership with India's leading telecom PSUs would reinforce Indo-Russian collaborations in advanced technology.” Quoting the official, the report added, “We hope the Indian government will issue the necessary clearances expeditiously to NIS Glonass for this crucial telecoms partnership to take flight. It is an important milestone in Indo-Russian collaboration in advanced technology and space research.”

The report adds that the GLONASS or 'Global Navigation Satellite System' was used only by the Russian military till civilians too were allowed access to it in 2007. It is akin to the US' Global Positioning System (GPS), i.e., it is a radio-based satellite navigation system offering location and time information globally, and can provide support to military, civil, and commercial users worldwide. 

Interestingly, the NIS GLONASS had previously hinted at its plans of participating in Indian government projects pertaining to passenger information systems, fleet management systems, and modernising the police forces. “It is also planned to develop telematics terminals in India that can work on both GPS and Glonass satellite navigation systems, said two people familiar with developments. Company executives could not be reached for comment,” added the report. 

Incidentally, despite the GLONASS offering global coverage, it has been lacking in comparison with the US' GPS system in terms of its commercialisation, especially the development of the user segment. 

What such comprehensive navigation services could mean for the masses in the country is no secret. On a related note, officials behind the world’s fourth largest railway network, the Indian railways, have been toying with the idea of fitting a GPS-based solution in trains. Such a solution would help the Indian Railways provide real-time tracking accessible on mobile devices and PCs. Although still under debate and discussion, reports have confirmed that the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), which functions as the technology unit of the Indian Railways, and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), have developed a GPS-based solution. The technology is capable of providing the exact location of a train with an accuracy of 10 metres, and latency of two minutes, on a real-time basis.

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