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GLONASS Made Simple: Is it Better than GPS? [2020 Guide]

Are you aware of the different types of navigation systems in the world? If, No. Then we are here to make you aware of the type of navigation system over the world, which we use in our daily life into our mobile or in our car navigation system. In which the most extensively used are GPS and GLONASS. We all are aware of GPS, what it does and for what it is extensively used but are not aware of GLONASS.

What is GLONASS?

GLONASS is an alternative to GPS(Global Positioning System), which stands for(Global Navigation Satellite System) in English and in Russian. It is termed as GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema). It was started by Russia in the Soviet Union in 1976. And It is the most expensive project of the Russian Federal Space Agency which consumes 3 times more than the actual budget.

It is used for both Military and civilian. And it has also covered 100% coverage of Russian territory in 2011, which is globally expanded with the full orbital constellation of 24 satellites. GLONASS orbit is especially suited for high altitude where getting GPS signal is very difficult.

Difference between GPS and GLONASS

Full-FormGlobal Positioning SystemGlobal Navigation Satellite System
OwnerUnited StatesRussian Federation
Launch Date22 Feb 197812 Oct 1982
Used ForMilitary, CiviliansMilitary, Civilians
Number of Satellites3124 (approx.)
Time SystemGPSTUTC
Orbital Axis (TM)26,56025,508
Coordinate FrameWGS-84PZ-90
Plane Inclination55-degree64.8 degree
FrequencySignal (L1): 1575.42
Signal (L2): 1227.60
Signal (L3): 1176.45
Signal (G1): 1602
Signal (G2): 1246


GPS(Global Positioning System) is a satellite-based navigation system that was developed by the USA government and used by the USA army too. Its development was started in 1973 and completed in 1995. It has a network of 31 satellite in the orbit covering the planet and it is the most widely used in mobile phones, navigators, etc.


GLONASS(Global Navigation Satellite System) was developed by the Russian Soviet Union in 1976. Used by the Russian Government for both civilians and Army. It has a network of 24 satellites in the orbit it is also used in mobile phones, navigators, etc.

The accuracy of accuracy GLONASS over GPS

In terms of accuracy, both have a different perception. It can be used best on high latitudes (north or south), where GPS signals cannot be reached. Talking about the accuracy, GLONASS is much preferable than GPS due to its orbital position. So even when you are at a place where GPS does not work properly. GLONASS will track you accurately and sometimes vice-versa.

In low latitude, GPS performs better and gives much better accuracy than the GLONASS, because of its high coverage over the globe. But putting them into use together both Global Navigation Satellite System and GPS gives a much accurate result than using individually, which are used in cities where getting the position of the person gets difficult due to high rise buildings. Here GPS and Global Navigation Satellite System together perform very well.

Different Versions of GLONASS

There are many versions –

  1. GLONASS 1– First ever GLONASS satellite called “Urgan” and was launched in 1982, was mainly used for whether Positioning and timings. Now it is not in a working state and is currently revolving around the earth as a waste. Uses the FDMA signal.
  2. GLONASSM – Launched in 2003. It is used for GIS mapping receivers. Uses the FDMA signal.
  3. GLONASSK– It is the improved version of the previous satellite with an increased lifetime of 7 years. and It carries move navigational signal which gives more accuracy and also uses a CDMA signal for modulation.


It was firstly used for weather positioning by the Russian Army and Commercially. It was used as a car navigator “Glospace SGK-70”, introduced in 2007 & much costlier than the GPS system.

In 2011 the Russian Government forced all car manufacturers in Russia to support GLONASS. Smartphone company’s like Apple, Asus, HTC, and Samsung showed interest in the Global Navigation Satellite System besides GPS.

GLONASS For Smartphones

For smartphones, AGLONASS is using which brings more features to smartphones. It gives point to point location. & The traffic data with the help of the data connection over the phone. Now smartphone companies are launching phones which support both GPS and Global Navigation Satellite System. and Use the dual-core location-based service to find any location, by giving access to more satellites.

Companies producing Smartphone making use of GLONASS with GPS

  1. Apple (Since Apple 4s)
  2. Sony
  3. HTC
  4. Samsung (Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 etc.)
  5. LG
  6. Motorola
  7. NokiaGlonass

The alternative of Global Navigation Satellite System and GPS

Like the USA’s GPS and Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System there are many countries that have developed their own navigation system. Some of them are:-

  • IRNSS – IRNSS stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System with operational name NAVIC. It is a project by ISRO(Indian Space Research Organisation) that provides accurate real-time positioning and timing services. The architecture consists of 7 satellites, with two surplus satellites. NAVIC will provide two levels of service, the ‘standard positioning service’ will be open for civilian use. And a ‘restricted service’ for authorized users (including military).
  • GALILEO – GALILEO is a navigation system by the European Union through Europe Union Space Agency. It has 30 satellites positioned in three circular Medium Earth Orbit.
  • BEIDOU – BEIDOU is a navigation system from China. Mainly used in China for both civilian and Army. It consists of 35 satellites and requisites to provide global services upon completion in 2020.
  • QZSS – Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) is the project of the Japanese government which mainly focus on Japan. It was first launched in 2010 and have Constellation of 4 satellite into the earth orbit.


I hope this guide helped you realize about Global Navigation Satellite System, is it a future for the Navigation system? Let me know in the comment section below with your opinions.

So, are you ready to accept this new technology over the old GPS system? We all know it is more accurate so according to me, It is “Yes”.

After reading this guide, What are your views about GPS?

Kumar Shivam
Obsessed with gadgets and new technologies.

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