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Difference between GPS and GPRS

What Is GPS?

Global Positioning System or GPS is a satellite based navigation and positioning tool. GPS was originally developed for military purposes by Department of Defence in the year 1973. Back then it was used by soldiers and military vehicles to accurately locate their positions in a battle field. But today GPS is used for many reasons.

Different Uses

It is used to forecast weather conditions, study earthquakes and for commercial purposes like phones, cars, boats and so on. Outdoor sports such as hiking, fishing and so on also use GPS.

So how does GPS Work?

The constellation of satellites orbiting earth circles the earth making two complete rotations everyday. There are 24 satellites in operation travelling about 19,300 km. GPS receivers receive signals from 4 to 7 satellites at a give time. It determines its own position by calculating the distance of the satellites. GPS works on a simple mathematical calculation called Trilteration. GPS works well when you are out in the open.

In short GPS is made up of three distinct parts:
  1. 24 satellites orbiting the Earth twice a day. That is, it takes 12 hours to complete one circle.
  2. The GPS on the Earth receiving the satellite signals.
  3. The data center which controls and monitors GPS stations on the Earth.
Now that we have an overview of what GPS is and how it works. Let us look at a similar tool GPRS and its functionalities.

What is GPRS?

GPRS is the abbreviation for General Packet Radio Service. GPRS is used for wireless communication using a mobile device.

Different Uses

With this service you can access the internet, send emails and large data. You can also watch real time News, download games and watch movies.

How does GPRS work?

You must be aware of how files are transferred from one location to another on your computer. They are broken down into Packets and sent across. Similarly GPRS also uses the same function to transfer data through a network.  The information is split into smaller units or Packets and sent through the network and is reassembled at the receiving end.  GPRS provides a high-speed data transfer, typically between 56 Kbits per second to 114 Kbits per second.  A user of the GPRS network is charged only on the amount of data is sent or received as opposed to the duration of the connection.

Now that you have a good understanding of both the technologies, let us summerise the difference:


  • A positioning service that can determine any position on the Earth
  • Receives signals from Satellites
  • Can be used on both land and sea, in any part of the globe.


  • A data service technology that provides wireless communication
  • Receives signals from cellular towers
  • Range is limited to land.

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Pranav Jairam said...

greeting of the day!!! I would like to thank you for sharing working principle of GPS and architecture of GPRS.

christyjames said...

Excellent post.. Technology has seen a great advancement during these past few years, especially GPS vehicle tracking system in chennai is more accessible today.

Andy Volodin said...

Thanks for great info. BTW, here’s a free IMEI lookup tool as community service to validate gsm phones.

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