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Breaking News : Panic button a must for all mobile phones from 2017 onwards to ensure women’s safety
In a bid to make a mobile phone handset an effective tool for self protection, especially for women, the government has said no such device will be sold from next year without a single key panic button to connect the nearest redressal agency. This follows a similar move for one emergency ’112′ number for availing services of police, ambulance and fire department. “Technology is solel meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
“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 also have Global Positioning System inbuilt,” Prasad said.

The notification did not specify which agency would connect the number, but sources in the ministry said the decision will be taken soon.

The Gazette of India notification said from January 1, 2017, no mobile phone handset manufacturing company shall sell in India: “The feature phones without the facility of panic button by pressing ‘numeric key – 5′ or ‘numeric key – 9′ to invoke emergency call.”

It also said, “ Smartphones without the facility of emergency call button by pressing the same for long time to invoke emergency call or the use of existing power on or off button, when short pressed thrice in quick succession.”

The notification added, “With effect from January 1, 2018, no mobile phone handset manufacturing company shall sell the new mobile phone handset in India without the facility of identifying the location through satellite-based GPS.”

The notification defined a feature phone as one that can access the Internet and play music but lacks provisions of an operating system feature of a personal computer. Smartphone, on the other hand, has all features of a personal computer system.

Some of the leading smartphone makers like Vivo, Xiaomi and Karbonn whom IANS tried to contact for a reaction declined to comment on the notification as of now.

In March this year, the government had proposed that people will have to just dial “112″ for emergency help from police, ambulance or the fire department. The telecom watchdog had proposed that all existing emergency numbers — such as 100, 101, 102 and 108 — be retained as secondary numbers, which would then be re-routed to the single emergency number 112.
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Mobile phone companies oppose 'panic button' move, say will push up the prices for basic phones

NEW DELHI: Handset makers have opposed the government's move mandating global positioning system (GPS) on feature phones, arguing it would hit users at the lowest level as the cost of basic phones would go up by Rs 400 a massive increase in a market where the cheapest device is available for Rs 500.

The additional cost would wipe out the entry-level feature phone segment and potentially take away basic connectivity from millions of consumers, handset makers said, a day after the government issued a directive mandating all mobile phones to have an inbuilt GPS to identify the handset user's location from January 2018.

"Implementation of GPS in new mobile handset will not be in the interest of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid," said Indian Cellular Association (ICA) president Pankaj Mohindroo in a letter to telecom secretary JS Deepak, a copy of which was seen by ET.

"We suggest this particular aspect may be relooked at," he said, suggesting telecom-operator based security architecture, called A-GPS or Alternative GPS, as another way for security agencies to track consumers in need.

While the GPS component would cost up to Rs 66.7 ($1), the required software and technical enhancement would raise the overall increase in cost of at least Rs 266 to Rs 400 ($4-6), the association that represents handset makers said, making the case for reconsideration.

[Image: Mobile_phone_companies_oppose_panic_button_mov.jpg]

It argued that at a time when India is poised to be the global manufacturing hub for feature phones, more so for entry-level segment, the cost increase "will knockout the entry level feature phone segment". Despite the eventual drop in volume as consumers would migrate to smartphones, feature phone volume will continue to sustain at 100 million units even after 2019, the association added.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) on Monday necessitated all new phones to have GPS from January 2018 and all new feature phones and smartphones sold in the country from January 2017, to also have a panic button feature that will allow women in distress to seek help.

While numeric keys 5 and 9 were identified as push buttons for an emergency in feature phone handsets, in smartphones, handset manufacturers will have to provide an 'emergency' button or a facility to send an alert by short-pressing the power on/off button thrice in quick succession.

Having worked on it for the last two years, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Tuesday said the in-built system of panic button on mobiles for women's safety is a "game changer", as women across the country, including rural areas now have access to phones.

Executives at leading handset makers said that implementing of the panic button would require changes on a software, which can be easily done, and some have already started the process.

"We are already working on incorporating the panic button in our phones and should be able to meet the timelines prescribed by the ministry," said Sanjay Kumar Kalirona, head-mobile business, Intex Technologies.

Handset makers, including Samsung, Micromax, Lava, Intex, Microsoft and LG, have been part of the ongoing discussions with DoT and Department of Electronics & IT (DeitY) throughout 2014-2015 for creating an SOS, or panic button on mobile phones.

The long timeline of 2017 will also give ample time for the industry to implement the panic button facility. "We would be compliant to all government regulations," said Manu Jain, India head of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

Calls emanating from the button may go to number '112', the emergency number that is inbuilt in GSM phones which allows a user to make calls even if the phone is locked, out of balance or out of coverage area of a subscribed network.

However, a back-end infrastructure may be created to ensure that emergency calls are connected to call centres and in turn to security agencies.

112 is also the country's national emergency number which was given a go-ahead by the Telecom Commission last month.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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