Mobile phone makers to miss Oct 1 deadline to roll out Indic scripts

Mumbai, September 17

Mobile phone makers are likely to miss the October 1 deadline for embedding Indian regional language software in their handsets due to issues involving standardisation of Brahmi script.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had last year ordered that all mobile phones should be configured to enable users to text in all Indian languages from July 1 onwards.

The deadline was extended to October 1 after the industry sought more time to get their products certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards. Now, it seems there is confusion over standardisation of the Brahmi script.

Pankaj Mohindroo, President of Indian Cellular Association, told BusinessLine that the industry has implemented the languages based on their own understanding; however, there was confusion over Brahmi specifications by the Bureau of Indian Standards, which has old characters.

“Since there is a lack of clarity, work is going on to come up with a new standard for mobile phones. We are working with MeitY to arrive at a solution,” said Mohindroo.

All the phone companies that BusinessLine spoke to confirmed that they were ready with the language capability, but the issue over scripts may come in the way of getting BIS approval. Industry observers said that though smartphones with operating systems like Android come with built-in capabilities for Indic languages, getting language capabilities in feature phones is not easy. Feature phones have limited memory, which makes installing 22 languages difficult.

Akshay Dhoot, CEO of Videocon Mobiles, said, “We are working with our ecosystem, including chipset manufacturers, to enable Indic languages, but we are not sure if we will be able to meet the requirements on all the models by October 1.”

Dhoot said the deadline should be extended by two more months at least so that mobile firms have enough time to address the issues; otherwise, it could lead to bugs creeping into the software, he added.

Shashin Devsare, Executive Director of Karbonn, said “We at Karbonn are committed to complying with the regulatory requirements, which include language as and when the directive is finalised.” Officials at MeitY said that concerns over script standardisation has been brought to their notice and a solution is being worked out. Asked if the deadline will be extended further, the official said a decision will be taken after assessing the implementation status.

Published on September 17, 2017

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