New Delhi: India is set to unveil a mobile phone designed to compete with the United States and Britain and to launch its first “mobile emergency call centre”.
But a number of obstacles remain, including its cost, the fact that it is still a prototype, and the complexity of getting it into the hands of people who don’t have access to a cellphone.
The smartphone is meant to be a game changer for India’s emergency-response services.
The country already has a huge number of emergency calls, including those from nuclear and terror attacks, fires and earthquakes, but these are often handled by telephone.
The new mobile phone will provide a secure way for emergency call-centres to manage the response, including by enabling remote dispatch of callers to the nearest nearest location, or by using mobile phones to send information to operators in remote areas.
It is expected to cost around Rs 20,000 ($2,200), a significant increase from the previous version, the Pune-based Bharat Electronics Ltd.s Viva 4G.
India is hoping to build a mobile emergency call center network, which will allow for a “one-stop-shop” for emergency calls to be handled.
The technology will be deployed in the first phase of the national mobile emergency-call-centre network, with the first unit set up in a rural village near the Indian capital.
The country is also trying to expand its network, in the process building an initial network of about 20,00 call centers and a “bulk-response center” to handle emergencies.
The goal is to have 1,000 call centers on the network by 2020.
The project was announced on Tuesday, a day after India’s national chief medical officer, Dr Gopal Subramaniam, announced that the country had launched its first national mobile-phone service, a service to connect people with trained personnel who can quickly access vital information, including for medical emergencies.
The Bharat Industries Ltd, which developed the device, is in talks with a number to buy the patents for the new phone.
The company, which also designs phones for mobile payments, has a range of products for health care.
But the Indian mobile phone is a relatively new technology and will be subject to considerable regulatory scrutiny.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Subrameniam said the phone was “unprecedented”, but that there was a “need for a national mobile service”.
The new service will be a step up from the current system, where only one operator handles emergency calls and one of the two operators is the government.
“There is no other country in the world where you have a single operator, so you have to manage that,” he said.
“So the national service has to be one of those.”
The Bharats, which have a presence in the Indian market, declined to disclose the price.
But they have said the new service would cost a minimum of Rs 20 lakh ($2.4 million) and could be sold at an initial cost of between Rs 3 lakh ($4,000) and Rs 20 million ($2 million).
It will initially offer voice-over-Internet services to those without a mobile, and will allow emergency calls over cellular phones.
The company said it is working with telecom operators, hospitals and other providers to ensure the service is well-tested and affordable.
The first phase will be rolled out in India by 2020, and Subramanniam said he expects the system to become available in other countries soon.
The launch of the service will help in tackling the increasing number of calls from people who cannot receive a cellphone call in India, as well as the high number of deaths from natural disasters.
More than 300,000 people have died in India since April this year, according to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau.
More than one million people have been injured.