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General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) is a wireless data communication service that transfers data at a rate of up to 40-50Kbps, a similar access speed to a dial-up modem.

It permits continuous connection to the Internet for mobile phones and higher data rates allow for the use of multimedia applications such as web sites viewing on mobile handheld devices. Other features provided through the use of GPRS are e-mail, video streaming, multimedia messages and location-based services. GPRS is based on Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication, which runs at speeds of up to 9.6 kilobits, and is available on almost all GSM networks.

GPRS is an efficient way of sending and receiving small bursts of data, such as e-mail and web browsing, in addition to receiving large volumes of data.

EGPRS (Enhanced GPRS or EDGE) is an enhanced version of GPRS and uses a different type of technology. It allows GPRS transfers of approximately three times faster.

Capabilities Available With GPRS

  • Connect to office or personal email accounts to get email as it arrives
  • Browse the Internet on the mobile phone
  • Synchronize cell phone and office calendar
  • Download ringing tones, graphics, and games
  • Play online games
  • Send and receive Multimedia Message Service (MMS) messages
  • Use mobile phone as a modem to connect a laptop to the Internet
  • Use Java based applications that require a network connection
  • Chat using instant messaging
  • Transfer data up to three times faster with an EGPRS (Enhanced GPRS) phone

GPRS Classes

There are three GPRS classes which help indicate the capabilities of a mobile phone.

  • Class A

Class A mobile phones can be connected to both GPRS and GSM services simultaneously.

  • Class B

Class B mobile phones can be attached to both GPRS and GSM services, using one service at a time. Class B enables making or receiving a voice call, or sending/receiving an SMS during a GPRS connection.

  • Class C

Class C mobile phones are attached to either GPRS or GSM voice service. One needs to switch manually between services.

Comparison of Technologies

The class of the device determines the speed at which GPRS can be used. The table below displays different types of technologies and their rates of transfer.

Uplink (Sending)
Downlink (Receiving)
14 kbps
28-64 kbps
9.6-14 kbps
9.6-14 kbps
56 kbps
56 kbps
ISDN Standard
64 kbps
64 kbps
2 Mbps
2 Mbps

External Links