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Is gps free overseas?

Posted on 2011-02-25
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Visiting Europe. Noticed gps is working. Currently on free wifi. Is the gps free? Airplane mode is on.
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Question by:RobertNZana
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 92 total points
ID: 34983319
Yes, GPS is free in Europe.

GPS is made up of a network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Apple iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and iPad use GPS-A - Assisted GPS which in basic terms accesses an intermediary server when it is not possible to connect directly via satellite indoors, for example and this server provides the nearest satellite with additional information to make it possible to more accurately determine a users position.

iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 also use "wi-fi hotspots and cellular towers to get the most accurate location fast

see http://www.everyipod.com/iphone-faq/iphone-gps-definition-assisted-gps-how-gps-works-real-time-navigation.html
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by:nappy_d
nappy_d earned 46 total points
ID: 34983953
It is free but you WILL pay data roaming charges, unless you phone is unlocked and you use a SIM card from the local international area you are visiting.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 92 total points
ID: 34984025
There are no charges to use "real" GPS in the world.

A-GPS could incur charges for use via WiFi, GSM, GPRS, 3G networks.
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by:RobertNZana
ID: 34984991
I am using wifi free while here, at hotels, etc. So any gps I use while connected to this should be free right? I have data roaming, cellular data and 3G Off. In fact I'm using airplane mode the whole time.

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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 92 total points
ID: 34985029
If your WiFi is Free, your A-GPS (assisted GPS), not real GPS will be Free.

If you turn on 3G for Data, it wil cost you!
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 92 total points
ID: 34985034
my Airplane Mode ON - turns off ALL radio wave comms, WiFi and 3G!
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by:currentdb
currentdb earned 45 total points
ID: 34985192
If you use the built-in GPS while you are at your hotel + you are connected to your hotel's WiFI network, then using the GPS is absolutely free + you can write/send mails and browse the Internet.

On the other side, if you are out of hotel's wifi range, then you can't use the GPS, but your 3G connection settings have to be set to OFF. If not you will incur high roaming charges.

Hope that helps
Cheers!

currentdb
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by:akahan
akahan earned 67 total points
ID: 34988870
The long and short of it is that the phone gets the GPS signal for free.  But that just tells the phone where it is (the coordinates, in essence -- one single datapoint at a time).  Obtaining the MAP , so that the phone can show you a "picture" of where it is (and therefore where you are), has to be done via wifi or telephone data connection, because the phone doesn't have a map of the world built in, as a typical regular (dedicated automotive) GPS devices does  If your telephone data connection is turned off, you can't be charged...but you won't be able to paint a map unless you have wifi turned on, and a connection to wifi available.

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by:RobertNZana
ID: 34990540
So if AIRPLANE MODE is ON then basically I'm safe from any charges, even if Location Services is On?
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by:nappy_d
nappy_d earned 46 total points
ID: 34991348
If airplane mode is on, yes, no data charges, but GPS functionality is lost.

The best thing to do is to unlock your phone and purchase a SIM card from the local carrier in the region you are visiting. By doing this, you avoid paying data roaming rates.
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by:akahan
akahan earned 67 total points
ID: 34992153
You are also safe from any charges if airplane mode is on (which turns off wifi and phone), but you then turn wifi back on.  

An even simpler way to avoid international data charges (but allow phone calls and wifi) is to go to Settings/General/Network, and turn "Data Roaming" OFF.

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by:currentdb
currentdb earned 45 total points
ID: 35008081
If you do really plan to use the GPS, best thing is to use the one you usually use with your car cause everything is free no matter where you are. Of course you have to buy & download Europe maps onto it. But it's better than to use the iPhone built-in GPS as you will just be limited to stay within your hotel's Wi-Fi range.

Alternative solution is to buy a downloadable GPS software like TomTom and use it on your iPhone which would be free as all maps are already in the phone. It's just expensive, around $100 to download it from Apple Store.
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by:RobertNZana
ID: 35017474
So LOCATION SERVICES can stay ON (even if Airplane Mode is ON), correct? And GPS will remain free (if used on wi-fi)?
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by:akahan
akahan earned 67 total points
ID: 35018538
Correct.  But note that if you turn airplane mode ON, this will turn OFF wifi, until you separately turn Wifi back on.  
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