I know that some companies offer tracking services for vehicles such as live GPS tracking they can access any time, but as you can't use the GPS protocol to send any data i wonder how the do it... I thought it can be archived with some attached GPRS functions to the GPS but the cellphone network is less reliable than GPS for some remote areas.

So how that's possible?

Is there any additional network attached?

5 Answers 5


Typically this is done via the mobile network. You are right about the cellhpone network being unreliable. That's why a lot of the tracking system would cache the GPS positioning data locally in case the network is not available and send it to the server once the network is back.


From my experience at a place where I used to work, they used a company that placed GPS units with cellular modems that were also attached to other vehicle sensors. The unit was programmed to send its location and sensor information over the cellular network to the company's server every 5 minutes I believe. The reason this was done is because they charged quite a bit for the data used by the units. There was also a possibility to "ping" each unit to get its current location. If no cellular signal was available, the company's software would simply "guess" the location and interpolate sensor values.


It is indeed done by cellular network, the GPS device came GPRS enabled which consistently send data to the configured server port which has listener program consistently running which then receive,parse and store data to database.

Which can then be use to show live data or history of vehicle, and when there is no network availability data is cached by GPS device which it send as soon as the vehicle come under network.


As an alternate to cell networks, a DeLorme InReach GPS can both send and receive data. I use these for team and resource tracking in remote areas where cell service is sketchy, or in case of emergency/larger, crowded events, where cell phone service may become jammed. They rely on satellite, not celluar.

I've placed these on the dashboard of vehicles and they seem to perform quite well there.


There are obviously extensible cellular networks as mentioned by spacialthoughts, above. While the range of these networks is advancing rapidly, the need for satellite based communications will keep them relevant for some time.

Another option for upstream communications would be geostationary satellite communication technologies, like HughesNet uses for their Gen4 system. Some specific reading on a geostationary satellite you might be interested in is here:

Hughes Communications Gen4 EchoStar XVII Geostationary Satellite
British Inmarsat Satellite for Telecom

From a higher level logic; programatically speaking: there should be a conditional check to see if GPS is reliable and available.

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