GPS (Global Positioning System) and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) are related but distinct terms in the field of satellite-based positioning and navigation. Here’s an explanation of the difference between GPS and GNSS:


  • GPS is a specific navigation system developed and operated by the United States government.
  • It consists of a network of satellites in space, ground control stations, and user receivers.
  • GPS was initially designed for military purposes but has become widely available for civilian use.
  • It provides accurate positioning, velocity, and timing information globally.


  • GNSS refers to a broader category of satellite-based navigation systems that are global in scope.
  • It includes multiple satellite systems from different countries or regions.
  • Besides GPS, other major GNSS systems include GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), BeiDou (China), and NavIC (India).
  • GNSS receivers are designed to work with multiple satellite systems, enabling enhanced positioning accuracy and availability.

Key GPS & GNSS Differences:

  1. System Origin: GPS is the specific navigation system developed by the U.S., while GNSS encompasses multiple satellite systems developed by different countries or regions.
  2. Satellite Constellations: GPS relies on its constellation of satellites to provide positioning and navigation services. GNSS includes multiple constellations from different satellite systems, increasing the number of satellites available for positioning.
  3. System Compatibility: GPS receivers can only receive signals from GPS satellites, while GNSS receivers can receive signals from multiple satellite systems, enhancing accuracy, availability, and reliability.
  4. Global Coverage: GPS and GNSS offer global coverage, but GNSS expands the coverage further by incorporating multiple satellite systems. This ensures better positioning capabilities in challenging environments like urban areas or regions with obstructed views of satellites.
  5. Interoperability: GNSS receivers can use signals from different satellite systems interchangeably, enabling better performance and redundancy. This interoperability makes GNSS receivers more versatile and adaptable to different satellite constellations.
  6. Signal Frequency: GPS operates primarily in L-band frequencies, while GNSS systems can use multiple frequency bands, including L1, L2, L5, and others. Multiple frequencies enhance positioning accuracy and provide resistance against signal interference.

In summary, GPS is a specific satellite-based navigation system developed by the U.S., while GNSS encompasses multiple global navigation systems, including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, and others.

GNSS receivers can work with signals from different satellite systems, offering improved accuracy, availability, and performance compared to GPS-only receivers.