A-GPS vs. GPS

A-GPS
GPS

A-GPS and GPS are different navigational aids that both use information from satellites to determine their exact location on Earth.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A GPS device communicates with 4 or more satellites to determine its exact location coordinates (latitude and longitude) anywhere on Earth. It works in any weather as long as the device has a clear line of sight to the satellites.

A-GPS stands for Assisted Global Positioning System. While it works on the same principles as a GPS (explained below), the difference here is that it gets the information from the satellites by using network resources e.g. mobile network, also called assistant servers.

Comparison chart

Edit this comparison chart

A-GPS

GPS

Stands for Assisted Global Positioning System Global Positioning System
Source of triangulation information Radio signals from satellites and assistance servers e.g. mobile network cell sites Radio signals from GPS satellites
Speed A-GPS devices determine location coordinates faster because they have better connectivity with cell sites than directly with satellites. GPS devices may take several minutes to determine their location because it takes longer to establish connectivity with 4 satellites.
Reliability Location determined via A-GPS are slightly less accurate than GPS GPS devices can determine location coordinates to within 1 meter accuracy
Cost It costs money to use A-GPS devices on an ongoing basis because they use mobile network resources. GPS devices communicate directly with satellites for free. There is no cost of operation once the device is paid for.
Usage Mobile phones Cars, planes, ships/boats

Contents: A-GPS vs GPS

A GPS device in a car.
A GPS device in a car.

edit The way it works

GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day in an orbit. These satellites continuously send information to the earth via radio waves. Messages transmitted by the satellites include (a) the time the message was transmitted, (b) the ephemeris or the information about the orbit, and (c) the almanac or the health and rough orbits of all the satellites. GPS receivers use these signals by calculating the time at which the signals were sent by the satellites and time at which they were received on Earth. Once the GPS receiver knows the position of at least four satellites and the transmit time of each (this is called time to first fix), it is able to lock its own location. This method of computing is called trilateration.

It may take 3 sec to a couple of minutes to get the signal depending upon the location and amount of interference. Interferences may be because of the terrain or number of buildings, foliage, atmospheric inconsistencies etc. This would result in signals reflecting off and having multiple paths.

Now, in case of an A-GPS device it uses the existing servers for e.g. of the mobile network tower and bases to get the information from the satellites. Since these servers are continually sending and receiving information there is no delay in knowing the exact orbit and time location of the satellites. In other words the time to first fix is a lot faster than a normal GPS. Also these servers have good computation power so they can analyze the fragmentary signals received from the GPS receiver and those received directly from the satellite and thus correct the error. It will then inform the receiver its exact location.

On the other hand, an A-GPS device uses existing servers e.g. mobile network cellsites to get the information from the satellites. Since these servers are closer and better connected to mobile devices, and are continually sending and receiving information, there is no delay in knowing the exact orbit and time location of the satellites. In other words the time to first fix is a lot faster than a normal GPS. Moreover these servers have good computation power so they can analyze the fragmentary signals received from the GPS receiver and those received directly from the satellite and thus correct the error. It will then inform the receiver its exact location.

edit Performance and cost

A-GPS is faster in finding the location but GPS gives a more precise location information. While there is no additional cost involved in using GPS devices, an A-GPS has additional cost involved because it uses services and resources of the wireless carrier's mobile network. Some A-GPS models have the ability to link up to GPS satellites directly in case the assistance server is not available or if it out of cellular network coverage area, but GPS devices cannot log on to a cellular network.

edit Video explaining the difference

edit References

Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us on:

"A-GPS vs GPS." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 24 Oct 2014. < http://www.diffen.com/difference/A-GPS_vs_GPS >

Related Comparisons Follow Diffen
Make Diffen Smarter.

Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!

Sign up »
Top 5 Comparisons

Comments: A-GPS vs GPS

Comments via Facebook

Anonymous comments (3)

December 23, 2011, 4:39pm

GPS is more precise than A-GPS. The wiki has been updated.

— 67.✗.✗.66
0

December 23, 2011, 9:21am

"Location determined via A-GPS are slightly less accurate than GPS"

"A-GPS is faster in finding the location and also more precise than a stand alone GPS."
Which one is correct?

— 91.✗.✗.170
-1

July 8, 2013, 4:14pm

If its using fixed points on earth they dont need the satillites.... just needs to know distance to cell towers which are allready known locations... the cell tower dosen't need to get a satillite signal to know where it is.....

— 121.✗.✗.176
-4

share

Up next

Latitude vs. Longitude