All Categories

UWB vs. GPS: Understanding the differences between UWB and GPS Tracking

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Feb 27, 2024
  • RFID
UWB vs. GPS: Understanding the differences between UWB and GPS Tracking

 While UWB offers high level of precision in tracking over a short range, the GPS technology leverages a network of satellites, offering wide coverage in outdoor positioning with slightly less precision than UWB.

In the world of location tracking and positioning technologies, two terms that often come up are UWB (Ultra-Wideband) and GPS (Global Positioning System). While both serve the purpose of providing location information, they differ in their underlying technology and the level of accuracy they offer.

UWB, with its ability to transmit and receive data over a wide range of frequencies, offers a higher level of precision compared to GPS. It uses short-range radio waves to measure distance and determine the location in real-time, making it ideal for RTLS applications that require centimeter-level accuracy, such as asset tracking and indoor navigation. On the other hand, GPS relies on a constellation of 24 satellites to determine location and is commonly used for outdoor navigation on a global scale.

Understanding UWB (Ultra-Wideband) technology

UWB technology is based on the transmission and reception of low-power, short-range radio waves across a wide range of frequencies. Unlike traditional narrowband technology, which operates within a specific frequency band, UWB utilizes a much larger frequency spectrum, enabling higher data rates and improved accuracy.

UWB devices emit very short pulses of radio waves, typically lasting for a few nanoseconds. The time it takes for these pulses to travel between devices ranges from 3.1 GHz to 10.6 GHz. It can sustain bit rates of more than 100 Mbps within a 10-meter radius for wireless personal area communications, allowing for exact distance and location measurement. UWB can accurately calculate the distance between them.

One of the key advantages of UWB technology is its ability to operate in dense environments without interference. Unlike GPS, which can be affected by buildings, trees, and other obstacles, UWB signals can penetrate obstacles and provide accurate positioning even in indoor environments.
UWB technology is rapidly gaining popularity across various industries. From logistics and manufacturing to healthcare and automotive, UWB is being utilized in a wide range of applications to improve efficiency, safety, and the overall user experience.

Understanding GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS, on the other hand, is a satellite-based navigation system that gives location and timing data from any place on Earth. It was developed by the United States Department of Defense in the 1970s and became fully operational in 1995. GPS consists of a network of 24 active satellites orbiting the Earth, ground-based control stations, and GPS receivers that receive and process signals from the satellites.

In order to determine location, a GPS receiver calculates the distance between itself and multiple satellites by measuring the time it takes for signals to travel from the satellites to the receiver. GPS satellites orbit the Earth at a height of about 20,000 kilometers in six orbital planes. They transmit signals in the L1 (1575.42 MHz) and L2 (1227.60 MHz) frequency bands.

GPS offers global coverage and is widely used for outdoor navigation, from personal navigation devices and car navigation systems to smartphone apps. It has become an essential tool for travelers, hikers, and anyone needing accurate positioning information in outdoor environments.

 However, GPS does have some limitations. It requires an unobstructed view of the sky, so it may not work well in dense urban areas, indoors, or in situations where there are tall buildings or dense foliage. In addition, atmospheric circumstances, such as ionospheric delay, can impact GPS signals, causing positional mistakes.
Understanding the differences between UWB and GPS Technology

While both UWB and GPS provide location information, there are several key differences between the two technologies. These differences can be categorized into the following aspects:






IEEE 802.15.4 

U.S. GPS Standard Positioning Service (SPS)


sub-GHz (500 MHz), the lower band (3.5 to 4.5 GHz), and the higher band (6.5 GHz to 10 GHz)

L1 band (1575.42 MHz), L2 band (1227.6 MHz), L3 band (1381.05 MHz), L5 band (1176.45 MHz) Carrier frequencies


70 meters (Typical), 250 meters (Max.)

Typically no parameter


in centimeters 

5-20 meters

Data rates

Up to 27 Mbps           

Not Applicable


Less than 1 ms (Typically

100 ms (Typically)


More than 10's of thousands of tags


Applications of UWB technology

UWB technology has a wide range of applications, especially when it comes to RTLS. UWB based RTLS provides a higher degree of precision, even better than BLE based indoor positioning and GPS based outdoor positioning.

Here are some notable examples:

1. Asset Tracking: UWB can be used to track assets in real-time, providing accurate location information for inventory management, supply chain optimization, and theft prevention.

2. Indoor Navigation: UWB enables precise indoor positioning, allowing users to navigate complex indoor environments such as airports, shopping malls, and hospitals with ease.

3. Automotive: UWB can be utilized in automotive applications for keyless entry, vehicle tracking, and collision avoidance systems.

4. Healthcare: UWB can be used in healthcare settings for tracking medical equipment, monitoring patient movements, and improving workflow efficiency.

5. Smart Homes: UWB technology can enable seamless interaction between devices in smart homes, allowing for precise location-based automation and control.

Applications of GPS technology

GPS technology has revolutionized navigation and positioning, enabling a wide range of applications. At present, nearly all kinds of Android and iOS devices use GPS for navigational purposes. The GPS technology has the largest coverage and adaption around the world when it comes to GNSS.

Here are some notable GPS applications:

1. Personal Navigation: GPS is widely used in personal navigation devices, smartphones, and car navigation systems to provide accurate location information and directions.

2. Fleet Management: GPS tracking systems are utilized in fleet management to track vehicles, optimize routes, and monitor driver behavior for improved efficiency and safety.

3. Emergency Services: GPS plays a crucial role in emergency services, allowing for accurate location information and rapid response in situations such as 911 or 108 calls.

4. Mapping and Surveying: GPS is extensively used in mapping, surveying, and geodesy to accurately determine positions and create detailed maps.

5. Precision Agriculture: GPS technology is utilized in precision agriculture for precise field mapping, automated machinery guidance, and yield monitoring.

In conclusion, UWB and GPS are two distinct location-based technologies that offer different levels of accuracy, coverage, and capabilities. UWB provides centimeter-level accuracy, works well in indoor environments, and enables real-time tracking. GPS, on the other hand, offers global coverage and compatibility with a wide range of devices and is a reliable choice for outdoor navigation. Understanding the differences between UWB and GPS is crucial for businesses and individuals looking to leverage location-based technology.

Frequently Asked Questions on GPS and UWB

Q1) In which environments does UWB outperform GPS?

UWB excels in indoor environments and areas with high signal interference, where GPS signals may be unavailable or unreliable, making it ideal for applications like indoor positioning, asset tracking, and real-time location systems (RTLS) in industrial, healthcare, and retail settings.

Q2) Where is GPS more suitable than UWB?

GPS is well-suited for outdoor navigation and geo-location applications, providing global coverage and accurate positioning over large geographic areas. It is commonly used in vehicle tracking, outdoor recreation, surveying, agriculture, and logistics, where precise location information is essential.

Q3) Are there any limitations to UWB or GPS technology?

While UWB excels in indoor environments, it may have limitations in terms of range and scalability for outdoor applications. GPS, while providing global coverage, may experience signal disruptions or inaccuracies in urban canyons, dense forests, or indoor environments with signal obstructions.



Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Feb 27, 2024

Get Free RFID System Consultation.

Scan the QR code
Click to chat here