Govt plans to make Indian languages support in mobiles mandatory

The Indian standard for regional language interface capability in feature phones is likely to be out in two months


Photo: Madhu Kapparath/Mint
Photo: Madhu Kapparath/Mint

New Delhi: Considered to be a crucial part of government’s Digital India push, the Indian standard for regional language interface capability in feature phones are expected to be out in two months.

The government plans to make these standards mandatory for mobile phone manufacturers in six months from now.

The standard defines the requirements for mobile devices to support display of content in 22 official Indian languages and provide input capability for three languages—Hindi, English and one local language.

“We are working with BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) and ICA (Indian Cellular Association) for formulation of the guidelines for including Indian languages in mobiles,” said R.S. Sharma, chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) earlier this week. “It will be finalized in next two months.”

According to a letter dated 12 November from Deity to BIS, “These specifications will be made mandatory by putting them under the ambit of suitable regulatory provisions and implementation mechanisms which include testing, control, compliance, punitive measures and dispute resolution will be enabled.”

“The industry has been gearing up to this challenge,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, president of industry lobby ICA. “The work is going on vigorously and it should be implemented with in six months.”

The proposed specifications require all mobiles to have minimum of 4MB of memory, of which 2MB will be reserved for Indian language support. While the specifications are applicable to all mobile devices—feature phone as well as smartphones, they do not impact smartphone devices much since they have ample memory and both Android and Apple mobile operating systems support most of the commonly-used Indic scripts, languages and also has separate keyboards for them.

“For smartphones, it is an easy job, but for feature phones, the ecosystem needs to be changed,” said Vishal Tripathi, research director at Gartner.