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GPS on data network - is it reliable?

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GPS on data network - is it reliable?

I am intending to rent a car to the outskirts of Sydney and was wondering if the GPS on the data network is reliable, especially at places like Blue Mountains and Port Stephens. Or am I likely to get no signals? When I was in the U.S. most of the country roads have no mobile signals at all. Not sure what it is like Down Under. Please advise.

The car rental charges about A$60 for the GPS for 3 days. I think that seems a little pricey. Since in my own country, I also use google maps instead of my car's GPS, I thought perhaps I should get an optus card with data plan to use for GPS. Or is it safer just to get the GPS from the car rental company?

Sydney, New South...
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1. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

I wouldn't use it personally, because there are points where the signal may cut out. Also, data is relatively expensive. I have used my phone around the Blue Mountains and parts of the Central Coast area to find a specific place once up there, but if I really didn't know the way there in the first place I would always have a printed map or my proper GPS running.

Also, GPS systems usually have some form of lane guidance, which you may find useful getting in and out of Sydney.

I don't think $60 is that expensive, especially when a missed turn off on the highway can sometimes mean half that much in fuel!

Sydney/Melbourne
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2. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

$60 seems very high. Optus have a $2 a day plan that allows 500 mgb of data a day as well as unlimited local calls - plenty for Google maps.

I never use a GPS any more. Google maps works fine. Port Stephens and Katoomba are hardly on isolated country roads.

An old fashioned paper map as a backup wouldn't hurt.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

If you are considering using your mobile /cell phone as a GPS , you need to know it is illegal to touch & use a mobile phone in a moving vehicle in NSW. I think the fine is about $250-300.

I'd rent the GPS wih the car if you really think you need one.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

GPS has nothing to do with data network. GPS relies on signals from an array of satellites run by the US military.

Sydney/Melbourne
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5. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

It's perfectly legal to use the phone as a GPS as long as it is either operated by the passenger or it is in voice direction mode. Then you only have to listen to the directions while the phone sits on the dash or the seat next to you. It's only illegal to use the phone ie handle it, while driving. If you want to check the map, just pull over to the side of the road.

asia
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6. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

Thanks everyone!

I'll check out the routes and see if it is complicated. If it isn't then I'd probably do without the GPS and rely on google maps.

Yes, Eva, I was thinking of getting that $2 a day deal from Optus. I've read their terms and conditions. If I exceed 500MB per day, it will then utilize the next day's value until the total of $20 is used up. Hence, I figured that might be a cheaper way than GPS. :)

Thanks for the advice on printed maps too. I'll be sure to print them even if I decide to get GPS at the last minute. I learnt my lesson on my last car rental - GPS malfunction and I had to rely on directions on the road.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

I have not used a separate GPS/directions unit in many years, relying mostly on Google Maps. I don't think you will have many problems with data coverage in the areas you're travelling to. Perhaps on the back roads of Port Stephens there could be minor issues but as long as you check that part ahead of time you should be fine.

Google Maps on mobile is much more data-efficient these days than it used to be. You should have no problems at all staying under the 500 MB per day limit unless you do a lot of video watching or other things like that.

I do find Google Maps' voice announcements a bit sporadic however - sometimes it just doesn't announce things. Not sure if that's a problem with my phone or what - but using a passenger to help navigate is perhaps the safest option, if available to you.

Another option is a dedicated map application with offline maps for your smartphone. There is one called Sygic that I use when I travel to places well outside mobile coverage. It has voice directions, lane guidance, all the bells and whistles of a separate GPS unit. I think it costs about $40 so a bit less than your rental GPS but not exactly cheap.

Edited: 20 February 2014, 00:30
asia
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8. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

Thanks Jeremy for the info. That's a relief to know that Googlemaps will do the trick. :) Fingers crossed.

New South Wales...
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9. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

We find it difficult navigating in Sydney with the phone as there are a lot of tunnels and it loses signal when you go through a tunnel and doesn't automatically re-set when you come out the other side so it's a mad panic to find where you are & re-set the map while driving in the city - not good. Much prefer our Navman for that situation but out on the highway, the phone is OK. Not fabulous but you won't get lost and the roads you are travelling on are pretty straight forward.

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10. Re: GPS on data network - is it reliable?

I think you may have it frack to bunt tez ;-))

Sydney tunnels are wired so that you don't lose car radio or mobile connection signals while in the tunnel. However, as soon as you go underground you do lose any satellite links so the GPS will drop out.