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GPS Enabled Cell Phones from Nextel - Review

As business owners begin their search for information about GPS tracking devices, most come upon what appears to be an easy affordable solution. GPS enabled phones from Nextel offer the cheapest way to start tracking your employees and your fleet. They seem like an easy way to begin reaping the benefits of GPS tracking, but as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for”.

Over the years we have heard several complaints about the GPS cell phones. Several of our customers started out using these GPS cell phones, but after a few months they began to realize the downsides of the phone tracking solution versus the dedicated GPS tracking solution. Let’s take a moment to make some comparisons. The first and most obvious problem with the GPS phones is that the drivers can simply turn off either the java applet running the GPS or the phone all together. Already there are message boards throughout the Internet where crafty employees are spreading the knowledge on how to disable the GPS tracking on the phone without being detected. There is talk of going into basements or using a metal wrap around the phone to make it appear as if it has merely “lost signal”.
The best way to ensure proper reporting is to take these factors out of the driver’s hands. By using a dedicated vehicle tracking system, with a “box” installed discreetly in the vehicle, driver interaction is completely taken out of the picture. The units are always on and always able to tell where a truck is either in real time over the web.

Secondly, GPS receivers need to have a clear view of the sky in order to use the GPS system to determine its position. By taking your GPS cell phone and placing it under the seat of the car, in the glove box, or walking inside of a building, this signal will be lost and tracking will be no longer possible at those points in time. With a dedicated GPS tracking system, the GPS antenna is permanently installed on the vehicle and always available to record the satellite signals from above.

Now as we said before, price is always a concern when a fleet owner is thinking about getting into the GPS tracking side of fleet maintenance, and it is true that most GPS cell phones can be bought for about ½ half the price of a dedicated GPS system, but think about the wear and tear on your own cell phone as it follows you wherever you go each day. Screens are broken. Flip top joints break. Keypad buttons fall out. All these symptoms are amplified when you are in a service industry carrying tools and equipment in and out of customer locations with your cell phone hanging from your belt. The life expectancy of your average cell phone is about two years, versus the expected lifetime of a dedicated GPS tracking system which is between four and seven years. Once a dedicated GPS unit is installed, it never needs be touched again.

The difference in reporting is varied as well. Although the GPS cell phones can usually report on 3-15 minute intervals like their dedicated counterparts, the fact that a signal can be lost so easily dramatically affects the Start-Stop reports it can produce. Business owners are relying on accurate reports so they can feel confident when comparing their employee time sheets against the GPS software report. Using a system that is only accurate 50% of time only leads to doubt on the employers end. When a technician insists he was at a location, but the report isn’t there to back it up, the fleet manager doesn’t know if he/she should trust the employee or the GPS data. Dedicated GPS systems take this issue out of the equation. Because they are “always on” and have the best ability to maintain a GPS lock with the satellites, the reports a manager has to look at are always 99% accurate.

The simple truth is that everyone I have spoken with who started out using a GPS cell phone solution has eventually come to the conclusion that it was not as useful as if they had gone with a dedicated system. Incomplete reports and driver tampering force them to start looking into the dedicated GPS solutions. We hope to help educate the buying public of these potential problems with the GPS cell phones.


Please contact us for more information and your free demonstration.

GPS Fleet Management
602.840.3337 - 866.358.2677

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