Differences Between GNSS vs. GPS

Navigation Technology: Your Guide to the Key Differences Between GNSS vs. GPS

Ever wonder how in the world a GPS works to serve almost all of our needs? Well, it turns out that there are a number of players in navigation technology, working to provide different functions and serve human needs. 

There are some differences between your standard GPS system and the GNSS network that’s working to keep your cell phone located. We’re going to look at the differences between GNSS vs. GPS today, giving you some insight into how these things work, what they are, and how they’re different. 

Hopefully, the information below can give you some perspective of how these amazing pieces of technology operate. 

Let’s get started. 

GNSS vs. GPS: Understanding The Differences

To start, it’s important to note that GNSS stands for “global navigation satellite system,” and it’s a broad term that applies to numerous different systems. Any satellite system that serves positioning functions can be considered a GNSS. 

It’s an umbrella term for these types of satellite networks. As a result, “GPS” is one of the many systems included under the GNSS umbrella. GPS stands for “global positioning system,” and operates in a different way from other systems. 

For one, GPS serves to triangulate the position of small devices on earth through the relationship in distance to various satellites. The coverage on earth is almost comprehensive if you were to distribute service across all GPS and satellite providers. 

That said, particular networks operate with specific satellites, making the user availability a little less comprehensive. 

The United States vs Global Systems

It’s also important to note that many navigations or positioning technology can utilize multiple GNSS or GPS systems. Devices blend between those signals smoothly in most cases, and the user doesn’t have any way to tell. 

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In many ways, the GPS and GNSS systems do the same things and provide the same services. One distinction is that “GPS” is a system that was originated in the United States and accommodates most of the positioning therein. 

On the other hand, GNSS systems are used for devices with GNSS capabilities in Russia, The European Union, Japan, and China. The positioning systems produced by those countries also provide service to many of the countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. 

Each respective system operates at a different orbital altitude. The highest orbit is 22,000 miles, held by the NAVIC system. GPS systems have an orbital altitude of 12,540 miles in the air. 

A majority of systems orbit the earth in a period of about 12 hours. That said, some systems are about half as slow, orbiting the earth in just under 24 hours as in the case of Russian and Japanese systems. 

That orbital speed is unique to each country based on that country’s position on earth in relation to the equator. 

Want to Learn More About GNSS Technology?

Navigation technology is complex, and there are always advancements happening in the field. There’s a lot to learn, and we’re here to help. 

Explore our site to learn more about GNSS vs. GPS, the GPS system, GNSS network information, and much more.