The History of GPS and How GPS Trackers Work


To understand GPS Tracking, we must first understand the Global Positioning System.

The GPS or Global Positioning System cost around $12 billion USD to build and launch. 

It’s free for anyone to use.

But initially, GPS wasn’t available to the public.

It was created by the American government to provide all their military and state divisions with pinpoint precision accuracy. 

Used on anything from a uniformed soldier to an armada of ships anywhere on the planet.

Split Screen of Soldier & Fleet

But how is it accurate?

I won’t bore you with the details but essentially there are around 30 satellites in orbit on a predictable path around the Earth.

At any point on the planet, there will be at least 4 satellites visible to a single area. Using multilateration (taking the positions of each satellite) we’re able to pinpoint exact locations.

There is a lot of maths to keep everything accurate, from the use of atomic clocks to complex maths like special and general relativity.

But we don’t need to know about that.

What we need to know is how GPS got into the hands of the public.

Korean Air Lines Flight 007

In 1983 a soviet SU-15 shot down a Korean passenger plane that accidentally strayed into prohibited Soviet airspace.

Because they didn’t have access to America’s GPS system, 269 lives were unnecessarily lost.

Crashed Plane

In that same year, because of the loss of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, US President Ronald Reagan announced that Global Positioning System would be made available for civilian use, all for free.

Not totally free, America pays approximately $2 million dollars every day to keep it operation.

And there was a second catch.

The signals were scrambled to make them less accurate for everyday civilian use.

Not very helpful if you wanted to use what GPS was designed for, accurate locating.

It wasn’t until 2000 that Bill Clinton signed a bill giving full unscrambled access to everyone.

There’s one caveat here, if you try to use the Global Positioning System above a certain height it won’t work.

We’re talking around 10,000 feet.

This is to stop missiles from using GPS as a targeting system.

So don’t get any ideas.

Bill Clinton with a Globe

How GPS Tracking Works

Taking what we learnt on how the Global Positioning System works, I’ll explain how GPS tracking works.

How Solid GPS Works

What occurs within your Solid GPS tracker is it picks up on the multiple satellites orbiting the Earth, takes in their signal and calculates its own location.

In Solid GPS’ case that location data and other information is sent via the cell towers through either 2G, 3G, 4G & 5G.

Travelling at the speed of light that tracking information hits our servers, is unencrypted and ends up displayed on your dashboard.

Where you can see your GPS trackers last location and other useful tidbits like speed, direction, signal strength, etc.


Since GPS is able to hit all sides of the globe a common question we receive is:

“why do I need a SIM card” or “why can’t I use a GPS tracker with no monthly fees”.

It’s because GPS satellites are designed to constantly sending out GPS signals, not to transmit that data anywhere else.

So that’s why most GPS trackers rely on SIM cards, cell towers and mobile networks.

Because without using these mobile networks, GPS trackers wouldn’t be able to transmit their data.

A problem might be forming in your mind right about now, regarding the reliance on the American GPS system too.

You’re not the first to have an issue with that dependency.

Countries like China, Russia and the EU have all launched their own Global Positioning Systems. Respectively named BeiDou, GLONASS and Galileo.

GPS Satellite

Because at any time America could shut off or limit their Global Positioning System.

The tiny country of Japan, funnily enough, has also launched two of their own satellites.

This is to ensure a strong signal is always present over their mountainous regions. 

Joining Japan is India, who has launched over 7 satellites to keep an eye on the massive swaths of land it controls.

Not only are there misconceptions about GPS but also regarding GPS tracking. 

We’ve actually compiled a massive list of every GPS tracking misconception.

Check it out here


So which satellite system does Solid GPS use?

And what about Solid GPS’ mobile carrier choice for the data transmission to cell towers?

Solid GPS uses Multi-GNSS, which means that instead of just using America’s Global Positioning System.

We have access to multiple satellites from the other satellite constellations. 

Such as Galileo, GLONASS & BeiDou.

So we don’t rely on a single satellite constellation and neither do we rely on a single network provider like Telstra to transmit that GPS data.

How is this possible?

The SIM card we use has come to an agreement with over 550 different mobile carriers to use their mobile network.

Giving you access to all those networks with your Solid GPS Tracker.

If you live in Australia, those networks are Telstra & Vodafone.

The reason we go through all this trouble is so we aren’t vulnerable to a single point of failure.

There also a bunch more misconceptions about GPS tracker you can learn about here

Here’s a picture of our tracking process again if you skipped over it.

How Solid GPS Works

And if all this has got you interested in getting your very own Solid GPS tracker


Click here to get your tracker now.

Or sign up below to get your free vehicle security report/blueprint and see how your car ranks up against the rest.

Sign Up Now And Get Your Free Vehicle Security Blueprint

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Solid GPS is based in Melbourne, Victoria. All design, development and assembly is done in-house.

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