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The General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a new non-voice value added service that allows Mobile Phones to be used for sending and receiving data over an Internet Protocol (IP)-based network. GPRS as such is a data bearer that enables wireless access to data networks like the Internet, enabling users to access E-mail and other Internet applications using Mobile Phones.

With GPRS you can enjoy a continuous wireless connection to data networks (Internet) and access your favorite web sites, entertainment services and other web applications.

GPRS is packet based, wherein GPRS data is handled as a series of "packets" that can be routed over several paths through the network, rather than as a continuous bit-stream over a dedicated dial-up connection. With GPRS, the information is split into separate but related "packets" before being transmitted and reassembled at the receiving end. The Internet itself is an example of a packet data network, the most famous of many such network types.

In second-generation mobile networks, calls are handled using traditional circuit-switching technology. A dedicated "circuit", or "timeslot", is allocated between two points for the duration of a call. No other phone can use this circuit during the call, regardless of whether any data is being transmitted or not.

GPRS standard is delivered in a very elegant manner- with network operators needing only to add a couple of new infrastructure nodes and making a software upgrade to some existing GSM network elements.

Internet on the Mobile: For the first time, GPRS fully enables Mobile Internet functionality by allowing interworking between the existing Internet and the new GPRS network. Any service that is used over the fixed Internet today- File Transfer Protocol (FTP), web browsing, chat, email, telnet- will be as available over the mobile network because of GPRS. Because it uses the same protocols, the GPRS network can be viewed as a sub-network of the Internet with GPRS capable mobile phones being viewed as mobile hosts. This means that each GPRS terminal can potentially have its own IP address and will be addressable as such.

Rich Media Applications: GPRS facilitates several new applications that have not previously been available over GSM networks due to the limitations in speed of Circuit Switched Data and message length of the Short Message Service (160 characters). GPRS will fully enable the Internet applications you are used to on your desktop from web browsing to chat over the mobile network. Other new applications for GPRS, profiled later, include file transfer and home automation- the ability to remotely access and control in-house appliances and machines.

Speed: GPRS allows large amounts of data to be sent over mobile networks at speeds three to four times greater than conventional GSM systems. Theoretical maximum speeds of up to 171.2 kilobits per second (kbps) are achievable with GPRS using all eight timeslots at the same time. This is about three to four times as fast as the data transmission speeds possible over today's fixed telecommunications networks and ten times as fast as current Circuit Switched Data services on GSM networks.

Always On: GPRS facilitates instant connections whereby information can be sent or received immediately as the need arises, subject to radio coverage. No dial-up modem connection is necessary. This is why GPRS users are sometimes referred to be as being "always connected". Immediacy is one of the advantages of GPRS (and SMS) when compared to Circuit Switched Data. High immediacy is a very important feature for time critical applications such as remote credit card authorization where it would be unacceptable to keep the customer waiting for even thirty extra seconds.

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