October 20, 2014

Cellular is Key to Choosing a GPS Tracking Provider

Written by Steven Stollery


Taking Down CDMA Network

Key to successful selection of a GPS fleet tracking service provider is the cellular networks they access. Choosing the wrong provider can be an expensive lesson. Here's some background to help make the right choice.


There are two distinct wireless transmissions needed to make real-time GPS tracking work. First are the satellite transmissions from the Global Positioning System. GPS tracking devices require a GPS receiver to capture these satellite signals used to pinpoint the location of the device. To receive that information in real-time the GPS device must also transmit location information and any other data defined in the GPS service providers plan, via a modem over a cellular network. This is where fleet operators have a choice and there are two critical areas for you to consider before making that choice.




Not all cellular network carriers are created equal. In fact, fleet operators in Canada face very distinct options for a number of reasons. Perhaps none bigger than the size of the country itself. Canada covers almost 10 million square kilometers while at the same time hosting one of the lowest population densities on the planet. This creates a significant challenge for cellular network builders. Through competition regulation, Canada has encouraged multiple providers to face this challenge resulting in variable coverage across the country.




There is also variability in the cellular platforms that carriers operate. Growth in cellular traffic has exploded in the past decade and carriers are scrambling to upgrade their networks to keep pace. Most people are familiar with the constant evolution in speed to push evermore voice and data through the system (1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE). Intuitively, faster is better. Less intuitive are the two main competing cellular platform protocols that carriers use to build this new speed upon. They are the Global System for Mobiles (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) platforms.


To describe the evolution of each platform quickly lands itself in an ocean of acronym soup. The simplest analogy to describe the adoption of the two platforms might be to compare it to the metric and imperial systems of measurement. Though the US officially sanctioned the metric system in 1866, it remains the only industrialized country that has not adopted it as its official system of measurement. Likewise with cellular platform standards. Most of the world is GSM while the US remains split between the two. In Canada, all major carriers are or have already converted their network platforms to GSM.


Growth of Data and GSM vs CDMA




Reason #1) Choose the GPS tracking provider that offers a cellular partner with the best cellular coverage for your operating area.

To ensure fleet operators are getting the most real-time data from the vehicle that the device is attached, it must be within a region of cellular coverage that the GPS modem can communicate.



Reason #2) Choose GPS devices that are future equipped. That means an HSPA 3G stage of GSM evolution or higher.

As carriers build out their networks to keep up with demand older technology is abandoned for new. CDMA is all but obsolete in Canada and the GPRS stage of GSM evolution is nearing that same end.



Plug N Track GPS provides multiple choice in carriers and only offers HSPA 3G modems. We welcome the opportunity to help make fleet management simple well into the future!