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Differential GNSS

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Title Differential GNSS
Edited by GMV
Level Basic
Year of Publication 2011
Logo GMV.png

Differential GNSS (DGNSS) is a kind of GNSS Augmentation system based on an enhancement to primary GNSS constellation(s) information by the use of a network of ground-based reference stations which enable the broadcasting of differential information to the user – also named rover – to improve the accuracy of his position – the integrity is not assured. There are several DGNSS techniques, such as the classical DGNSS (or DGPS), the Real Time Kinematics (RTK) and the Wide Area RTK (WARTK).

Differential GNSS

Transportable DGNSS reference station

The classical DGNSS technique is an enhancement to a primary GNSS system that consists of the determination of the GNSS position for an accurately-surveyed position known as reference station. Given that the position of the reference station is accurately known, the deviation of the measured position to the actual position and more importantly the corrections to the measured pseudoranges to each of the individual satellites can be calculated. These corrections can thereby be used for the correction of the measured positions of other GNSS user receivers.

When GPS is the only constellation used for the Differential GNSS technique, the system is called DGPS. DGPS accuracy is in the order of 1 m (1 sigma) for users in the range of few tens of km from the reference station, growing at the rate of 1 m per 150 km of separation.

The DGNSS term can refer to specific implementations using DGNSS technique. It is often used to refer specifically to systems that re-broadcast the corrections from ground-based short-range transmitters. For instance, the United States Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard run one such system in the US and Canada on the longwave radio frequencies between 285 kHz and 325 kHz. These frequencies are commonly used for marine radio, and are broadcast near major waterways and harbors. Australia runs two DGPS systems: one is mainly for marine navigation, run by Australian Maritime Safety Authority, broadcasting its signal on the longwave band; the other is used for land surveys and land navigation, and has corrections broadcast on the Commercial FM radio band.[1]

There are other DGNSS techniques used by high-precision navigation/surveying applications, based on the use of carrier phase measurements. These are the cases of the Real Time Kinematics (RTK) and the Wide Area RTK (WARTK).

DGNSS Related Articles

The following articles include further information about different important topics related to a Differential GNSS:

  • DGNSS Fundamentals introduces the classical DGNSS technique, its functionalities and the objectives of a DGNSS system.
  • The DGNSS Standards article summarizes the international bodies in charge of the standardization of DGNSS systems, the principle applicable documents and its current status.
  • DGNSS Systems sections provide a brief overview of the current existing DGNSS systems.



  1. ^ DGNSS in Wikipedia