The government has extended the deadline by two months for mobile phone manufacturers to implement the panic button feature in new handsets. “On the request of mobile device manufacturers, we have extended the period for implementing panic button in new handsets by two months ... the players had made a request saying they have unsold inventory of mobile phones without the panic button ... so we have given them an extension till February 28,” Telecom Secretary J S Deepak said.
The government in April 2016 mandated that all mobile phones in the country from January 1, 2017, will be sold with panic button feature.
As per the order, pressing panic button will make a call to single emergency number 112.
“The mobile phone makers have taken up task to enable more than 2 crore phones every month with panic button very seriously. Industry is completely ready. There is minor aberration because of demonetisation which will be corrected in next 1-2 months,” industry body ICA National President Pankaj Mohindroo said. Also, the government has mandated that from January 1, 2018, no handset manufacturer shall sell new device in India without the facility of identifying the location through satellite-based GPS.
The concept of a device with panic button feature was floated after brutal gangrape of a paramedical student in Delhi. The Ministry of Finance approved a Nirbhaya Fund following the incident, under which integration of the police administration with mobile phone network to trace and respond to distress calls with minimum response time, was to be done.
Talking about spectrum, Deepak said the DoT will finalise this year a comprehensive policy on backhaul spectrum or airwave that connects mobile towers with each other.
The policy for backhaul spectrum –the work on which will start shortly –will spell out aspects like the spectrum bands to be used for the purpose, system of allocation of such airwaves and the spectrum pricing. The backhaul spectrum works on higher frequency bands, between 3GHz to 70 GHz.
“We have done most of the reforms with regard to access spectrum, which is the spectrum between the consumer and the mobile towers. But on backhaul spectrum, which connects the mobile towers amongst themselves, there are areas like what spectrum should be used, how should the spectrum be allocated... those are the policy features we would like to work on, this year,” Deepak said.