What is a dual-mode GPS tracking device?

Exploring the benefits of dual-mode GPS tracking devices and how combining cellular and satellite tracking ensures enhanced visibility and security of all assets.
Remote vehicle tracking system in the desert

A dual-mode GPS tracking device is a device with integrated, dual-mode communications that operates using both cellular networks and satellite services to deliver connectivity to multiple assets.

Though this technology isn’t new, it is still the best solution to track vehicles, personnel and other assets in areas with little or poor GSM coverage. Specifically, a dual-mode device has proved particularly useful to security providers, oil and gas operators, and mining operations to oversee, manage and protect their field assets in remote environments.

How dual-mode works:

Dual-mode tracking devices blend the use of cellular bandwidth with reliable satellite coverage to provide seamless connectivity and avoid cellular network blind spots. Blind spots can affect tracking by potentially causing device failures, performance issues and serious security threats.

Blind spots are hidden areas of your network that negatively impact your network’s performance. They are the result of the loss of network visibility. These blind spots happen for a variety of reasons, but no matter their origin, they can have a tremendous effect on your network .

D. Hein, Solutions Review, 2019

Dual-mode devices work by switching to a satellite connection whenever the cellular coverage is weak or unavailable. It enables you to “fill in the gaps” of your cellular coverage until you can successfully reconnect to a strong and stable cellular network without any interference.

The device will continue to work effectively and efficiently to send data like GPS position, sensor and vehicle alerts, text messages, and more to key personnel wherever they may be.

Dual-mode provides accurate and timely updates, while keeping the cost of the required satellite airtime low. The satellite coverage allows for increased visibility and control of connected devices across even the most remote places, where cellular coverage is weak or non-existent.

In tracking, the cellular-satellite communications are transmitted from the device to the monitoring platform. It connects assets to a cellular network as the primary network in areas with strong service coverage as this will save on costly airtime use. The satellite network then acts as a backup when the asset is in a remote location where cellular signals are weak or not available to maintain complete asset visibility. The satellite signal is received by a ground station and facilitates the delivery of the information, which is then routed over a cellular network, making it ideal for remote tracking, cargo security, and driver safety applications as it offers a broader coverage and more reliability.

Why choose dual-mode?

So why choose a dual-mode over a cellular-only or satellite-only device?

Cellular-only based tracking devices enable transfers of large amounts of data quickly, efficiently, and cheaply when in areas supported by carriers. However, once the device moves out of cellular coverage, into low-infrastructure areas for example, there is no support system there to continue a signal and high airtime charges can. Having a platform and device set to smoothly transfer back and forth across both cellular and satellite terminals is crucial for maintaining visibility and security.

The benefit of having both cellular and satellite is an incredibly resilient and reliable monitoring setup. The device is designed to mitigate uncertainties in cellular networks and keep you connected all the time. In most cases, if weather conditions are bad or cellular networks are congested, it can be detrimental to communication services and emergency support systems. With a dual-mode device, these problems are avoided as the device automatically connects to the optimum solution. Ultimately, a dual-mode tracking device provides the reliability of satellite communications while splitting the cost structure between satellite airtime and cellular carrier costs. In other words, you only need to pay for satellite airtime when needed.

Aside from cost savings, selecting a dual-mode satellite-cellular product offers significant safety advantages. The device helps protect cargo in high-risk areas and prevent cargo theft with both cellular and satellite reporting, cellular jamming detection, and panic buttons. Particularly, with cellular jammers, the dual-mode device can still send a message via satellite that a signal jammer has been detected so security teams can be correctly notified to respond to the situation.

When selecting a dual-mode satellite-cellular device, consider the following:

  • Alerts
  • Geofences
  • Reports
  • Interfaces
  • Power
  • Installation
  • Ease of use
  • Integration
  • Costs
  • Reliability and security of data

Who would dual-mode GPS trackers benefit?

Asset and vehicle monitoring platforms need to be feature-rich and customizable platform to support the development of applications for specific business or operation requirements. Industries that regularly deploy remote vehicle tracking devices include:

  • Maritime
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Oil and gas
  • Construction
  • Heavy equipment
  • Agriculture
  • NGOs and governments

Any business can integrate the most cutting-edge GPS tracking technology into their everyday operations with ease, boosting productivity and minimizing the risk of wasted money. This technology can be input on a large-scale through managing and communicating with all personnel on-the-ground from a single platform. With benefits of monitoring safety, the chances of asset recovery and enhanced fuel usage are improved because of the increased visibility the tracking system provides. However, the dual-mode technology adds that extra layer of security and cost-benefit.

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