What's the Difference?

A-GPS (Assisted GPS) and GPS (Global Positioning System) are both satellite-based navigation systems used to determine the precise location of a device. However, there are some key differences between the two. GPS relies solely on signals from satellites to calculate the position, which can sometimes result in slower and less accurate location data, especially in urban areas or indoors. On the other hand, A-GPS combines satellite signals with additional data from cellular networks or Wi-Fi hotspots to enhance the accuracy and speed of location determination. This assistance from external sources allows A-GPS to quickly acquire satellite signals and provide more reliable positioning, making it particularly useful in areas with limited satellite visibility.


Full FormAssisted Global Positioning SystemGlobal Positioning System
TechnologyCombines GPS and cellular network assistanceSatellite-based navigation system
AccuracyHigher accuracy due to assistance from cellular networkStandard accuracy
Time to First FixFaster time to first fix due to assistance from cellular networkSlower time to first fix
Power ConsumptionHigher power consumption due to cellular network usageLower power consumption
Indoor PerformanceBetter performance in indoor environments due to assistance from cellular networkPoor performance in indoor environments
AvailabilityAvailable in most modern smartphonesAvailable in dedicated GPS devices and smartphones

Further Detail


Global Positioning System (GPS) and Assisted Global Positioning System (A-GPS) are both widely used technologies for determining accurate location information. While they serve the same purpose, there are significant differences between the two systems. In this article, we will explore the attributes of A-GPS and GPS, highlighting their functionalities, advantages, and limitations.


GPS, or Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based navigation system that provides location and time information anywhere on Earth. It consists of a network of satellites orbiting the Earth, ground-based control stations, and GPS receivers. GPS receivers, commonly found in smartphones, cars, and other devices, receive signals from multiple satellites to calculate the user's precise location.

One of the key attributes of GPS is its ability to work independently without any external assistance. It relies solely on the signals transmitted by the GPS satellites, making it a self-contained system. This independence allows GPS to function in remote areas or places with limited network coverage, making it suitable for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and navigation in rural or wilderness areas.

GPS provides accurate positioning information with a typical accuracy of around 5-10 meters. However, the accuracy can be affected by various factors such as atmospheric conditions, satellite geometry, and signal blockage due to tall buildings or dense foliage. Despite these limitations, GPS has become an essential tool for navigation, logistics, surveying, and a wide range of applications.


A-GPS, or Assisted Global Positioning System, is an enhanced version of GPS that incorporates additional assistance data to improve the speed and accuracy of location determination. Unlike GPS, A-GPS relies on a combination of satellite signals and data from cellular networks or the internet to provide faster and more reliable positioning.

One of the primary advantages of A-GPS is its ability to acquire a GPS fix quickly, even in challenging environments. By utilizing assistance data, such as satellite ephemeris, almanac data, and approximate location information, A-GPS can significantly reduce the time required to obtain a GPS lock. This is particularly useful in urban areas with tall buildings, where GPS signals may be weakened or blocked.

A-GPS also benefits from its ability to work indoors or in areas with limited GPS signal reception. By leveraging cellular network or internet connectivity, A-GPS can supplement the weak GPS signals with additional positioning information, such as cell tower triangulation or Wi-Fi access point data. This hybrid approach allows A-GPS to provide accurate positioning even in environments where GPS alone may struggle.

Furthermore, A-GPS can assist in reducing power consumption on mobile devices. By offloading some of the GPS processing to the network or internet servers, A-GPS can conserve battery life, making it ideal for battery-constrained devices like smartphones and wearables.


While both GPS and A-GPS serve the same purpose of determining accurate location information, there are several key differences between the two systems. Let's explore these differences in more detail:

1. Speed and Time to First Fix

GPS receivers typically require more time to obtain a GPS fix compared to A-GPS. This is because GPS receivers need to autonomously search for and acquire satellite signals, which can take several minutes in challenging environments. On the other hand, A-GPS leverages assistance data to speed up the process, reducing the time to first fix to a few seconds or less.

2. Accuracy

In terms of accuracy, both GPS and A-GPS can provide similar levels of precision. However, A-GPS has the potential to offer improved accuracy in certain scenarios. By combining GPS signals with additional positioning data from cellular networks or the internet, A-GPS can compensate for GPS signal blockage or multipath errors, resulting in more accurate positioning.

3. Reliability in Challenging Environments

GPS signals can be weakened or blocked in environments with tall buildings, dense foliage, or other obstructions. In such situations, A-GPS has an advantage over GPS due to its ability to utilize assistance data and alternative positioning methods like cell tower triangulation or Wi-Fi access point data. This allows A-GPS to maintain reliable positioning even in challenging environments.

4. Power Consumption

GPS receivers consume more power compared to A-GPS, primarily due to the autonomous signal acquisition process. A-GPS, by offloading some of the processing to external servers, reduces the workload on the device's GPS receiver, resulting in lower power consumption. This is particularly beneficial for battery-powered devices like smartphones, where power efficiency is crucial.

5. Network Connectivity

While GPS operates independently without requiring any network connectivity, A-GPS relies on cellular network or internet connectivity to obtain assistance data. This means that A-GPS may not function properly in areas with poor network coverage or when the device is in airplane mode. GPS, on the other hand, can provide location information regardless of network availability.


In conclusion, both GPS and A-GPS are valuable technologies for determining accurate location information. GPS is a self-contained system that works independently, providing reliable positioning in various environments. On the other hand, A-GPS incorporates assistance data from cellular networks or the internet to enhance speed, accuracy, and reliability, particularly in challenging environments. A-GPS also offers power efficiency benefits by offloading processing to external servers. The choice between GPS and A-GPS depends on the specific requirements of the application and the environment in which it will be used. Ultimately, both technologies have revolutionized navigation, logistics, and countless other industries, enabling us to navigate the world with confidence.

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