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Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the Wireless Tracking Help Desk, where we aim to answer any technical questions you might have about our products. If you can not find the answer to a question on this page please feel free to contact us with the question so that we can improve the help desk. Customer input is also very welcome on this page so if you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to contact us through the Contact Us section of the website.


What is GSM?

Global System for Mobile communications (GSM: originally from Groupe Spécial Mobile) is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. GSM differs from its predecessors in that both signalling and speech channels are digital, meaning that data communication is easily built into the system.

What does this mean to me?

The GSM network is what allows one person to send speech or data (text message) from one device to another device located anywhere in the world in the form of signals. This is the base for a lot of the 'bug' devices that are supplied and as such allows for their application to be world wide.

Why won't a GSM device work in my country?

Not all countries use the same GSM transmition band, or even use the GSM network for their mobile communications. There are 4 different GSM bands, 900 / 1800 are used in the majority of countries where as some places in the Americas (including USA and Canada) use 850 / 1900 due to the previous two already being allocated. GSM devices will be set up to be either Dual Band or Quad Band. A dual band device will, as a rule, only work in its country of purchase or countries that use those same GSM bands, e.g. A dual band device purchased in the USA will only work on the 850 or 1900 bands and so will be useless in the UK or vice versa. A quad band device will, as a rule, be set to work world wide in any country that use the GSM network no matter what band they are transmitting on.

Why is my GSM device telling me the 'phone is switched off' ?

There are four main likely causes of the problem;

  1. The battery of the unit has fully discharged and will need recharging or replacement.
  2. The SIM card has been inserted incorrectly or has not fully inserted.
  3. There is poor or no GSM reception in the area the unit is being used.


What is GPS?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the only fully functional Global Navigation Satellite System. Utilizing a constellation of at least 24 Medium Earth Orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals, the system enables a GPS receiver to determine its location, speed, direction, and time.

What does this mean to me?

A GPS receiver is a device that will allow you to know the exact location, speed of travel and direction of travel of the device at any given time. A good example of GPS technology in a practical application is the use of Satellite Navigation Devices in cars, this allows you to know your exact location, speed and estimated time of arrival.

What can cause interference or weaken the signal for a GPS device?

Although GPS technology has come a long way since being made publicly available in 1983 there are still limitations and many sources of interference and jamming, both natural and artificial.

The most common cause for GPS failure is due to line of sight, if the unit has little or no direct line of sight to the sky this can cause either weak signal issues or full GPS failure. Most vehicle trackers are mounted beneath the vehicle and as such the unit does not have direct line of sight however as long as the unit has been able to get a strong fix before being deployed this should not cause too many problems. The location of the vehicle, however, can cause problems. if the vehicle is stopped in a heavily built up area, such as ally ways and narrow streets, The GPS signal will have a much harder time establishing a connection with the unit. This can cause slight intermittent reporting problems with the unit, particularly from a 'cold start' situation when the movement sensor has just activated and the unit is fighting for signal.

Since GPS signals at terrestrial receivers tend to be relatively weak, it is easy for natural sources of electromagnetic radiation to desensitise the receiver, making acquiring and tracking the satellite signals difficult or impossible. Solar flares are one such naturally occurring emission with the potential to degrade GPS reception, and their impact can affect reception over the half of the Earth facing the sun, however due to irregularity of such an occurrence this is unlikely to cause any real problem. GPS signals are also subjected to interference from Van Allen Belt radiation when the satellites pass through the South Atlantic Anomaly, this occurs on a regular basis and can last for up to 8 minutes at a time.


What is GPRS?

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a packet oriented Mobile Data Service available to users of the GSM network. GPRS can be used for services such as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) access, Short Message Service (SMS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), and for Internet communication services such as Email and World Wide Web access.

What does this mean to me?

GPRS is a way of accessing the internet, sending picture or audio messages or sending E-mails from a mobile phone. GPRS is also used to send data from devices to web servers, this data is then accessible from a standard internet browser. The perfect example of this is the application in our own TrackWolf Advance and VIP units. Since GPS systems have no way of transmitting the data about location, time, speed and direction we must also use the GSM network to allow the data to be sent via GPRS.

Why is the GPRS transmittion taking so long?

Due to GPRS 'piggy backing' on the GSM network it is susceptible to low signal conditions. In the event that reception of the GSM network is poor GPRS will stop functioning until a strong enough connection is re-established. There is no way around this and no way of knowing an area has poor reception until the problem is encountered in the area.

What is the difference between Live and Historic tracking?

Live tracking is the ability to see real time updates of where a tracking unit is at that time. This is extremely useful for vehicle tracking because it allows the monitor to know where the unit is and act appropriately. Historic tracking would be where you would leave the device in position for a pre-determined amount of time before recovering it and offloading the information it has collected. This is extremely useful for those who wish to know where the unit has been but do not need, desire or have the resources to watch live.