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It’s undeniable — the GPS tracker is one of the most important innovations of the 20th century. From the invention of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in the 1970s to today, GPS trackers have made it significantly easier for us to get directions, pinpoint the location of a lost device, and stay connected to the world.
Got a GPS tracker but need a SIM card? Feel like you’re spending too much on cellular service for a GPS tracker? Or do you just want to learn more about how these devices work with a SIM card to ensure precise, high-accuracy location tracking?
Either way, you’ve come to the right place — read on to learn more about GPS trackers and how you can cut your service bill significantly. Or, if you’re ready to switch your service over to US Mobile, click below to get a SIM card for your tracker!
How Does a GPS Tracker Work?
First of all, GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A GPS is a tracking method to work out exactly where something is. It could track the exact location of a vehicle, a cell phone, or some other handheld device. A GPS doesn’t just track an item’s position — they also track its movement. That’s how your phone’s map app easily adapts the directions it gives you when you miss an exit or forget to make the right turn in the right place.
GPS trackers pinpoint an item’s location and share it with somebody else. For example, a tracker can be used by a company to monitor the route and progress of a delivery truck, or by a parent to check on the location of their child (or the family dog). One popular tracker is Apple’s AirTag, which you can attach to your belongings — like a backpack or a keychain — and view the location of using the FindMy app.
Tracking systems use the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network, consisting of 24 satellites and many more ground stations. In order to communicate, microwave signals are sent between the satellite and the device to give information on location, speed, time and direction. All cell phones, for instance, constantly broadcast a radio signal, even when you’re not on a call.
The technology has become common in smartphones and knowing a smartphone’s location can be used for several different purposes — from finding a lost device to marketing. One area that has grown the last couple of years, is hyper-local mobile advertising. Say for instance that you’re the Marketing Manager at McDonald’s. By using location-based marketing in the McDonald’s app, you can send promo codes to a person’s phone when they happen to be walking past a McDonald’s. You could also send a push notification to somebody driving by on the highway, saying “you’re only X miles away from the nearest McDonalds.”
Here’s a detailed video on how the tech works:
GPS Trackers Needing SIM Card
Any GPS Tracker has a receiver to triangulate its own position from the satellite signals — using these signals, the tracker can calculate its distance from three satellites up in space and figure out its exact location.
However —the vast majority of GPS trackers need a SIM card in order to achieve connectivity. SIM cards allow location transmission, sending audio data, and receiving commands to turn on audio and other advanced features. Example of trackers powered by a GSM SIM card are:
- ATian TK103B
- Vision One
- Panadoo DZ09
- Samsung Gear S3
- Trax Family
- Covrt Gear
Because most GPS trackers need a SIM card, you’ll also need a data plan for them to work the way they’re supposed to. SIM-less GPS trackers do exist — for example, Garmin watches — but if you want to be able to track your device or item from a distance on another device (say you want to check your phone’s real-time location via your computer), you’ll need a SIM card, which is the only way to transfer GPS data from one device to another.
The majority of the trackers in the list above are eligible for prepaid affordable plans from US Mobile, and a text and data plan for a GPS Tracker is just $6/month. US Mobile customers, on average, save about $600/ year on their cellular service, so give us a try today with one of our highly affordable data plans.
If you’re using a so-called GPS Watch, or phone tracker to track your kid or maybe for someone to keep track of you, you’ll also need a cellular plan. These watches or trackers tend to use very limited data since it’s just giving location instead of downloading big files or streaming videos. Some watches you can text with, and some you can call with. Overall your plan can be kept very small though.
Let’s say you have a smartwatch that uses talk, text, and data, it should be enough with US Mobile’s smallest plans. In fact, the 100 min, 100 text, and 100 MB for $9/month is the most common plan among our customers using our prepaid SIM card for their watches.