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GPS Tracking vs. Cell Phone GPS

A Look at the Facts Proves There is Really No Contest

Written By: FleetMatics GPS Fleet Tracking

On the surface, cell phone-based GPS vehicle tracking may seem like a cheap alternative to traditional GPS tracking systems.

However, extensive field tests and customer reviews show that cell phone GPS tracking falls far short of hard-wired GPS tracking systems. The supposed up-front cost advantages of cell phone GPS are completely diminished in the long term.

Before deciding to rely on a cell phone-based GPS tracking system for your vehicle fleet, be sure to consider the following:

Reliability
How many times has your cell phone dropped a call? How often do your cell phone conversations break up? Those same issues affect cell phone GPS tracking.

Cell phone signals are widely known to be unreliable and spotty. This means the tracking data you get from cell phone GPS tracking will likely have gaps. You can't effectively use GPS to manage your fleet with only partial data. Some services will use a "store and forward" technique which improves data completeness, but you'd never confuse it with "real time."

A quality GPS Tracking System will have significantly better uptime. The data you get will be more complete, giving you all the information you need to make informed fleet management decisions.

Accuracy
Most cell phone GPS tracking solutions utilize cell towers to determine location. This means you know which cell phone tower your employee is closest to, but you employee could actually be hundreds of feet or even miles away Even those that use triangulation services can't provide complete accuracy.

A GPS Tracking System provides pinpoint location and time information. You will know the exact location of every vehicle every moment of every day. You can also use the satellite mapping to view the vehicle right down to street level with complete accuracy.

Control
Cell phone GPS tracking relies heavily on your employees to remain effective. With many cell phone tracking solutions, the phones can easily be turned off, employees can "forget" to turn them on, the phones can be misplaced, batteries may not be recharged as needed or the signals can be purposely blocked. While some systems will be alerted to a phone being off or a battery running out, that's about all they'll know.

A GPS Tracking System gives you total control of your fleet. The system is hard-wired to the vehicles and is virtually tamper-proof. Employees can't turn them off and they can't block the signal. You get true 24/7 GPS vehicle tracking.

Support
Most companies that offer cell phone GPS solutions have inadequate after-sale support, if they have any support at all. They rarely offer any training on the system to help you maximize performance and upgrades are virtually unheard of. In addition, cell phone GPS often requires a complicated setup process that the client is expected to initiate. Many of these services engage in a lot of buck passing when problems arise.

Costs
Cell phone-based GPS tracking can have a lower upfront cost (although you can see per phone activation costs of $25-$30), but deficiencies in cell phone tracking cost more in the long run.

Since cell phone tracking solutions are unreliable and inaccurate, the data you receive will not help you realize the full cost-saving and productivity-increasing potential of GPS tracking.

In addition, cell phones in the field generally experience a high degree of wear and tear (ever drop or lose your phone?). Replacement and repair costs are a continuous expense.

Most GPS tracking hardware is constructed to withstand road conditions in all weather and is often hidden within vehicles, away from potential risk.
 

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