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​Bluetooth vs GSM vs Satellite Asset Trackers

Sep 13, 2019

Asset trackers have become a key technology component in many global industries including land and maritime transport, logistics, navigation, personal tracking and security. We now track almost everything from cars and planes to boats and bikes. We even track our dogs, small children, phones, and other personal belongings. Asset trackers provide the comfort and peace of mind knowing where all things are at all times.

Some of us have already been introduced to this technology from the days when GPS became available to the general population. Others are just learning what this technology can do for them. After a little research we discover there are hundreds of companies offering a variety of solutions. Some better than others and many customized by the specific application. There are 3 types of trackers available on the market. Bluetooth trackers, GSM trackers and Satellite trackers. The difference is range and operating cost. The Bluetooth trackers like “Tile” will only provide you with the location of your assets within Bluetooth range. Which can be between 20 and 50 feet maximum. The GSM trackers use cellular technology and can provide you with a GPS location only where cellular networks operate. These typically require a commissioned sim card and an active plan with the cellular network they operate on. Satellite trackers are fully global and are not limited by range. The operating costs for satellite trackers are usually higher than other trackers because of the cost to maintain satellite networks. Each tracker is suitable for it’s application where Bluetooth trackers are great for finding your keys, GSM trackers are great for finding our where your kids are playing or where your wife is going when she is “getting her nails done” couple of times a week or where your husband is going after work. For everything else such as tracking your vehicle, boat, plane or shipping container, satellite trackers provide the best service and have proven to be the most reliable solution.

Asset trackers are usually small and compact. The user can mount them or hide them almost anywhere. One of the main issues the asset tracking industry is trying to overcome is battery life. Every GPS chip sucks a large amount of power to communicate with the network and keep updating it’s position. Bluetooth and GSM trackers battery life usually lasts not more than a week and they are very limited in range. There are some new a bit more expensive trackers that offer better performance. The SPOT trace satellite tracker offers up to 3 months of battery life and reliable satellite tracking. This of course depends on the settings and how often you need the tracker to send it’s location. So battery life could be significantly extended or shortened based on the location intervals. We compared SPOT trace to other GSM trackers in the high end range and tracked two assets for 1 month. The results proved consistent with the manufacturer guarantees. The satellite tracker provided location information more consistently than the GSM trackers, and we also had to replace the batteries on the GSM trackers after only 2 weeks of periodical tracking. After 1 month we measured the battery status on the satellite tracker and found out it has 63% battery left. This was consistent with the manufacturer guarantees. In overall costs the GSM trackers costed us about $10 per month each while the satellite tracker cost us at $19 monthly. In our conclusion, for personal and short term use of tracking inexpensive items we would go with a GSM tracker. For more valuable items such as cars, trucks, boats and other expensive equipment or belongings, we would definitely go with a satellite tracker. It is extremely important to have enough battery life to locate an asset in case it goes missing. We have seen numerous cases where the asset has not been able to be recovered simply because someone forgot to replace or charge the battery on time. If you are interested in learning more about the SPOT Trace satellite tracker feel free to click the link below or contact us and we can provide you with more information.