Commercial : +33780912481 | Support : +33780916070 (Lun-Ven)

What technology is used by GPS trackers for vehicles?

Vehicle tracking has become an essential part of our daily lives. For individuals seeking to protect their vehicles against theft or for businesses seeking effective fleet management, the use of GPS trackers has become common practice. These devices are now at the heart of our transportation systems, providing increased safety and efficiency.

This article aims to explore in depth the technologies that make the operation of these devices possible. We will focus in particular on two key aspects: communication technology, with concepts such as GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network), and location technology, which is based on principles such as GPS (Global Positioning System) and triangulation.

By better understanding these technologies, we will be able to fully appreciate the potential and challenges of GPS vehicle tracking as well as the best GPS tracker for cars. Prepare for a fascinating journey into the heart of the technology that powers our connected world!

Location technology

Location technology is an essential part of GPS trackers. It allows the position of a vehicle to be determined with great precision in real time. Two key concepts are used in this technology: GPS (Global Positioning System) and triangulation.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS is a satellite navigation system that was developed by the United States government. It is made up of a network of satellites. Smartphones and GPS devices that have built-in GPS receivers are the two most common types of devices used for location tracking.


To identify its position in 2D (latitude and longitude), the GPS receiver in a device or phone connects with at least 3 satellites. If it locks with 4 or more satellites, the receiver can determine its position in 3D (latitude, longitude and altitude).


Triangulation is a technique that is applied in a 3-dimensional frame. We take the distance “d” which separates a satellite from a GPS receiver. The satellite has a precise and defined X position in three-dimensional space. The set of possible points where the GPS user could be located is the sphere with center of the satellite and radius the distance d.

Triangulation réseau

With 2 satellites, the precision is not yet sufficient. So, we are now using a third satellite. We use the same approach, identical to the 2 previous satellites. So, we obtain 2 possible points, if the user is located on the surface of the Earth, only one of the 2 points is consistent. Thus, we can just deduce its exact position by simply eliminating the point giving an inconsistent result.

In conclusion, location technology plays a crucial role in vehicle tracking. It not only allows you to know the current position of a vehicle, but also to follow its route in real time. This can be particularly useful for businesses that manage a fleet of vehicles, as it allows them to optimize their operations and improve efficiency.

Communication technology

Communication technology plays a crucial role in the operation of GPS trackers. It allows these devices to transmit location data to a server or other device. Two main technologies are commonly used in this context: GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network).

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)

GSM is a mobile telephony standard that is widely used around the world. In the context of GPS trackers, GSM is used to send and collect data from a central unit via a data call. GPS tracking devices that use GSM technology are capable of transmitting information about a vehicle’s location to a server on the Internet using the global cellular network. However, the range of GSM is limited by cellular network coverage, which can cause problems in remote or underserved areas.

Antenne GSM

To find out more about the shutdown of 2G and 3G in France and why it is time to change your GPS trackers now, consult our dedicated article.

LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network)

LPWAN is another communications technology that is increasingly used in GPS trackers. Unlike GSM, LPWAN is designed to transmit small amounts of data over long distances while consuming little power. This makes it an ideal solution for tracking assets, including vehicles. In addition, the cost of data transmission will be lower and the battery life of the GPS tracker for car will be better (depending on the frequency of sending the positions and settings of the GPS tracker).

An example of LPWAN technology is Sigfox, which is used by some GPS trackers. Sigfox works like a GSM cellular phone network, but with much greater range and works throughout Europe regardless of subscription (no roaming charges).

Couverture réseau européenne ou mondiale

In conclusion, the choice between GSM and LPWAN will depend on the specific monitoring needs. While GSM can provide better coverage in densely populated urban areas, LPWAN can be more effective for long-range tracking and in areas with limited cellular coverage. Additionally, LPWAN GPS trackers are generally non-jamming.