Reliability is key to building GPS services in India, Russians say
Printed headline: Dual System
Russia’s NIS-Glonass is forming a joint venture with Antrix Corp., the marketing arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, to help it break into the market for satellite tracking and navigation services in India.
Despite the presence of more than 130 companies in the GPS market, Navigation Information System-Glonass (NIS-Glonass) says India’s market is grossly underserved, largely because its competitors offer unreliable or incomplete services. NIS-Glonass overcomes the reliability issue by processing signals from the world’s dominant global positioning providers—Russia’s Glonass and the U.S. Global Positioning System satellites, says Program Director Vladimir Finov.
Finov expects India’s combined GPS services revenues to reach $500 million in 2012, a big jump from its position in 2009 of just $11 million. “We plan to start manufacture of receivers by the end of 2011,” he says. He anticipates orders for 300,000 units.
NIS-Glonass is to open its first office in India here this month and begin a four-city promotional tour, targeting logistically focused businesses and police and forestry services. The joint venture’s biggest challenge will be to convince Indian customers that good management is worth paying a premium for. Indians tend to buy by price, Finov says.
The Russian service recently won a pilot project to provide GPS services for police in the state of Karnataka and is pursuing local partnerships to support sales in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The company is to provide equipment for the Hyderabad-based HBL Power Systems to monitor its fleet of 50 cars and buses by providing metadata on vehicle positions and route patterns. It is slated to be in service by December.
When India lifted the import ban of GPS receivers in 2003, the market began expanding. It grew 6.3% in the first eight months of 2010, according to a marketing study by IDC, which tracks the industry.
Taxi drivers are expected to be among the fastest adapters. IDC says 8,000 taxis had receivers in use in January 2009, a figure it expects to reach 30,000 by the end of 2011.
Power Grid Corp. of India, which provides 45% of the country’s total power generation capacity, was an early adapter, using GPS services to monitor its grid for system overloads and collapses. Serum Institute of India tracks the temperature of its refrigerated vans and trucks via GPS. New Delhi-based Adarsha Thoughtworks uses it to monitor the shelf life of fruits and vegetables at 30 store outlets.
GPS capabilities are now becoming common in large infrastructure projects. Survey of India has begun ordering GPS receivers to aid its government mapping and survey work. The Ministry of Science and Technology anticipates that “e-smart” cards, which transmit metadata on the health of national assets, will become common in the next decade.
For its part, ISRO wants to cooperate with Glonass and the U.S. to develop an Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. But an ISRO official counsels patience, since India needs a cadre of up-to-speed technicians for the task.