Even though they are very different, two types of tracking devices are often confused: GSM and Satellite.
We often think that we have a "satellite" tracking device because it has a built-in GPS (Global Position System) in its casing.
But reality is quite the opposite...
All "satellite" and "GSM" tracking devices are equipped with a built-in GPS. The GPS works well via a satellite network, but it doesn't necessarily give it the quality of a satellite device.
It all depends on the way data are transmitted and geolocation information is collected by your GPS.
Of course the GPS integrated in the device identifies the localisation data via satellite (Position latitude and longitude, speed, direction, altitude...).
These data must be communicated to a processing centre that turns them into a localisation point on a dedicated map.
But the GPS can also transmit this information to a computer server in two different ways, and that's the difference:
Either by using the mobile phone network: that's a "GSM" tracking device
Or by using the satellite network: that's an authentic "satellite" tracking device.
Satellite tracking device
This tracking device operates via satellite networks
This means that it will transmit information from its integrated GPS to the data processing centre via a satellite network.
Under these circumstances, it really is a Satellite tracking device!
This device works everywhere...No need for a GSM network.
Either at sea, in the mountains, in the desert or in a city, you will always be localised.
There are three main satellite network systems: Inmarsat, Globalstar and Iridium.
Inmarsat and Iridium offer global coverage.
Globalstar offer smaller coverage, but it is still very important.
Inmarsat is the only network that offers real time coverage.
Because of a more complex technology, satellite network is often more expensive. The data transmission cost is also higher, and doesn't often allow you to have the same position frequency as the GSM tracking device (hourly positions or less).
However, you can go all over the world without any surcharge. Satellite doesn't have any borders and offer a flat operating rate (No roaming fee).
In a nutshell:
Advantages of the satellite tracking device:
Global coverage offering real safety, if you travel off the beaten track or outside your country. When going abroad, the subscription costs are often more advantageous than those of the GSM tracking device.
Disadvantages of the satellite tracking device: The selling price is slightly higher for the device than for a geolocation GSM and unless you choose an unlimited subscription, the position frequency report/subscription costs will be more expensive for the satellite tracking device than for the GSM.
Recommended for: Any good or person travelling outside of the mobile phone coverage network and/or travelling abroad: international transportation, camper, boats, hikers, mountaineer, adventurers, special correspondent...
GSM tracking device
This tracking device operates with a SIM card via the Mobile network.
Its price is low because it requires a common transmission technology : mobile phone (In France : Bouygues, Free, Orange, SFR).
The down side is that it stops working when it is located in an area that is not covered by GSM networks: some areas located in the mountains or countryside, at sea away from the coast, in the desert, etc.
Outside of France, it can still work via the local mobile networks if GSM networks are available. But this function could be financially risky (roaming charges). Many people had an unpleasant surprise when they received their phone bill after a trip abroad. This also applies to GSM tracking devices!
In a nutshell:
Benefits of the GSM tracking device:
If you use it via its usual mobile phone network, you can get geolocation at a relatively low monthly subscription cost allowing you to access many geolocation points (every minute).
Disadvantages of the GSM tracking device:
This beacon doesn't work if there are no available GSM networks.
Recommended uses: Any good or person travelling in area covered by GSM networks.