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Rural GPS Coverage


I’ve had quite a few emails this week where people ask (in part) about GPS coverage in rural areas. Sometimes we get so absorbed in all of the new GPS technology we forget the GPS system itself isn’t familiar to everyone in the market for GPS receivers.

The short answer is that it doesn’t really matter where on the planet you are, GPS coverage won’t be any stronger in urban areas or weaker in rural areas. Unlike mobile phones who normally use ground based towers, the GPS signal comes from satellites orbiting the earth. So long as you can see the sky above you, you should be able to receive the GPS signals.

There are some minor exceptions to this. For example some weaker GPS receivers have difficulty receiving the signal from the GPS satellites under trees with a thick canopy, in deep valleys where there are limited angles to view the sky, and near tall buildings in big cities.

However even if you live in extremely rural areas (as I do most of the year) coverage no different than it will be in large cities.

15 Responses

  1. question
    aaaaai want buy good GPS which will operate in eastern europr(Slovakia Croatia-sailing Adriatic)Can you suggest one?

    vladimir chrappa - April 24th, 2007
  2. I believe the question people in rural areas are after is not whether a satellite signal can be attained, but how accurate the maps are in finding rural addresses? Are detailed maps limited to city/suburban areas or can I just as accurately find the Jones’ Farm as I can the metro airport?

    Chuck - February 14th, 2008
  3. Chuck hit the nail on the head. I have been considering buying one of these GPS units for my truck, but I live in the foothills of eastern Kentucky and was concerned about whether it would be accurate in such a rural area.

    Ben - September 16th, 2008
    • Ben, I’m originally from Harlan Co., and I wondered the same thing. So, did you get a unit? And is it working for you there in the mountains? Chuck’s warning about weak signals in valleys with limited view of the sky made me skeptical about GPS units working well in those close-together hills.

      annie - February 18th, 2009
  4. Generally no, the map quality in rural areas is not quite as good as it is in urban areas. Don’t get me wrong… they are typically good, but you are more likely to find an error on a rural road.

    Tim - September 16th, 2008
  5. My GPS doesn’t well around my area at all. I live in rural Indiana. It will not find country roads. Is there updates you can get for this?

    chrissy - September 17th, 2008
  6. Are the roads actually not in the device, or can you just not locate them by the name you are searching with? In other words if you browse/pan the map can you find the road?

    Tim - September 17th, 2008
  7. No I can’t see them when I pan out. I enter the addresses and sometimes it says it can’t be found. Sometimes it sends me on a complete other road. Last time it sent me a good 10 miles away from were the actual road was. Any suggestions?

    Chrissy - September 18th, 2008
  8. If you have the latest maps installed, there probably isn’t much you can do other than report the mapping error.

    Tim - September 18th, 2008
  9. I bought it last christmas. Would it have the latest maps? If not where do i get them? Also, who i do report the map error to? Thank you for helping me

    chrissy - September 19th, 2008
  10. Depends on the GPS you have and the map version it came with.

    Tim - September 22nd, 2008
  11. Yes, I finally bought one, and I must say my fears were completely unfounded. There are some points of interest that are not programmed initially, but it found some roads that I never would have dreamed it would know. It gives great directions. I bought the Garmin 205. As for the matter of finding satellites, mine always shows excellent reception no matter where I’m at.

    Ben - February 18th, 2009
  12. I work in the oilfield.Im looking for a great GPS unit.Most of my travel is hwy but the rigs are not generally at the next exit.They are in generally in very remote areas.What would be a brand and unit that would be best suited for me.I generally always have the lat. and long. of the sight,but not always.I would be willing to spend decent money if I knew it was a nice piece of equipment. Thanks

    Rusty - July 4th, 2009
    • Have you found a GPS unit yet? I’m looking for one for my husband since he also works in the oilfield has a problem with the “local” landmarks given in the directions to each well site he has to maintain. Thank you for any information you might be able to provide.

      Angela - November 3rd, 2009
  13. I work in a telecomm company. There are times i have to look for a customers located in rural areas with addresses that uses Range Road and Township. Im currently using a Magellan GPS but its only good typically for City Addresses. I would like to know if there is a GPS unit that would accept Range Road and Township address.

    Clarence - July 16th, 2010

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