Carrier-certified GPS Devices: Worth the Extra Cost?

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With so many types of cellular and mobile devices capable of GPS tracking—and the network service that accompanies each one—it’s sometimes hard to decide which one really is the best for you (or the best in general), especially if you may or may not have done your research. What’s the difference between these companies, and why are some devices (say, off the web) cheaper than the “name-brand” or in-store ones?


Carrier-certified vs. Non-carrier-certified GPS Equipment

There is a distinction. Carrier-certified GPS devices, for instance cellular, mobile, and GPS tracking equipment, undergo an enormous and difficult examination period before they are approved for release onto wireless networks, and many of those not one but three stages of testing. Every carrier-certified GPS enabled device must meet the standards of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a United States federal subdivision founded in 1934 that makes in-US and international contact by satellite, radio, and wire, among others, conform to certain criteria that will ensure the most efficient use and provide the highest national security of America’s communications structure.


Exclusively cellular and mobile equipment go through even more testing under the worldwide PCS Type Certification Review Board (PTCRB), not connected with any one specific wireless company, government or country. Its function is to provide a way of standardizing the assessment and verification of each proposed GPS enabled device; the equipment will only be certified if it meets the PTCRB’s requirements of being sufficiently compatible with the UMTS and/or GSM wireless networks. The last stage of testing is within each carrier itself to make sure each device is compatible within its own wireless network and measures up to the carrier’s basic performance criteria, which differs among companies.


Why all the fuss? Each carrier company markets its benefits and reliability of wireless network (fastest data transfer, least amount of dropped calls, ability to get service or signal strength anywhere) to the public. To uphold their promise of customer satisfaction, carriers are dedicated to rigorously testing the devices that will access their wireless network so that as few breakdowns and network failures as possible occur.


Does Purchasing One Device Over the Other Make a Difference?

It does if you’re spending quite a bit of money to ensure that your device will be properly compatible with the carrier network you choose. Non-carrier-certified GPS devices may be just as reliable and fully compatible as the verified ones, but you won’t have the guarantee.

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Claire Richards

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