Journal of Navigation

What is the accuracy of DGPS? 1

Luís Sardinha Monteiro a1a2, Terry Moore a1 and Chris Hill a1
a1 Institute of Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy IESSG, The University of Nottingham
a2 Portuguese Hydrographic Office. Email:

Article author query
monteiro ls   [Google Scholar] 
moore t   [Google Scholar] 
hill c   [Google Scholar] 


In general, a Reference Station calculates differential corrections which are valid for that exact location (zero baseline) at that particular epoch (age of corrections zero). However, DGPS users may be located as far as 200 nm away from the Reference Station and some of the errors compensated for by the Reference Station vary with space, namely satellite ephemeris, tropospheric and ionospheric errors. Therefore, the corrections calculated at the Reference Station suffer certain accuracy degradation as the separation distance increases, because of a decreasing relevance of the Reference Station data to the user. The error growth with increasing distance to the beacon is accentuated by the inability of Reference Station and user to see the same satellites, commonly termed the lack of intervisibility. The error growth with distance is the most important factor determining DGPS accuracy, but surprisingly very little has been done to assess it. US official documents and IALA state that the achievable accuracy degrades at an approximate rate of 1 m for each 150 km (80 nm) distance from the broadcast site, but this value is based on a theoretical prediction, made back in 1993. To estimate the error growth with real data, 6 DGPS receivers were placed along the Portuguese coastline at approximately 50 nm intervals from Sagres Broadcast Station, in a South – North direction. This paper describes the results of the trial.

Key Words: DGPS; Beacons.


1 This Paper was presented at the European Navigation Conference GNSS 2004 hosted by the Netherlands Institute of Navigation, 16–19 May 2004 in Rotterdam.