All Mobiles Must Have Emergency Panic Button from Jan 2017

Government also wants phones sold from 2018 should possess an inbuilt global positioning system.

Published: 26th April 2016 04:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2016 10:16 AM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI: All mobile phones sold in India from January 2017 should have an emergency panic button, while all phones sold from 2018 should possess an inbuilt global positioning system (GPS), says a government ordered released on Monday.  The government has stipulated that either numeric key 5 or key 9 should be the designated emergency numbers on mobiles.

GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the earth where there is unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women, I have taken a decision that from January 1, 2017, no cell phone can be sold without a provision for panic button and from January 1, 2018 mobile sets should have also GPS inbuilt,” said Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

But, mobile handset makers have sought more discussion on installing GPS on feature phones. “The decision to have panic button on all the phones is achievable and government had held discussions with us, but GPS on feature phone needs to be examined and would require additional discussions with the ministry,” said Pankaj Mohindroo , National Director General of  Indian Cellular Association, the apex body representing major mobile handset makers.

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The move will bring in more security for mobile users, especially women, children and elderly population. However, the cost of handset could go up, feel analysts. “The handset makers will have to redesign their phones and also write new software, all this involves some cost and it will get reflected in the final product,” said Romal Shetty Head Telecom Practice KPMG.

Arming handset with panic button and GPS is one part, but to get it connected and working with the network is another part and a challenging one. “It is doable, but the operators will have to give free data for the emergency service and customize the network software to align with the handset,” says Kartik Raja founder and chief executive officer of Phimetrics Technologies an independent audit company focused on measuring (mobile service) customer experience across emerging markets.

Operators were still not clear if the emergency services and GPS will be chargeable. “It is a welcome move, but we have to examine it closely. The government and the regulators will have to sit down and decide if it is to be free or charged,” said Rajan Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India that represents all telecom operators in India excluding Tata Tele and Reliance Communications.

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