What is a GPRS Phone?

A General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) phone connection is a way of enhancing cell phones to allow the transfer of data, as well as voice, more rapidly. GPRS is a type of technology that is designed to enhance 2G, or second generation technology, so that it provides a standard of connection closer to 3G technology. Often referred to as 2.5G, it allows faster and immediate connections, but does not quite meet the 3G specifications.

Using Global System for Mobile (GSM), or 2G technology, is good for voice calls, but it has limited capabilities when used for downloading and uploading data. When GSM is used for sending data, the circuit requires a dedicated connection to a network, which uses up valuable time. When transferring data using this technology, the user is billed for the unit of time connected even if there is no data transferred.

A GPRS phone transfers data in packets and the user is billed per unit of information transferred, not by the time connected. Packets are formatted units of data that have the address information for the sending and receiving computer. Using these addresses, the network switches between packets to send them to the proper destination. Sending information in packets allows the transmission over a shared connection, thus improving network efficiency. If there is congestion, the transfer rates may slow down, but the user pays for the data transferred, not the time on the connection.

A GPRS phone enables users to connect to the Internet anywhere, subject to radio coverage, and the phone must support GPRS technology. There are different classes of GPRS phones and the class determines the speed of data transfer. For example, a class 2 GPRS phone can transfer between 8 to 12 kilobits per second (kbps) of data for an upload and 16 to 24 kbps when downloading. Meanwhile, a Class 12 has the maximum data transfer speed of 32 to 48 kbps for uploading or downloading.

The speeds supplied by a GPRS phone allow users to download games, ring tones and apps that were not available on the GSM network. They also allow users the full range of Internet use and can be synchronized with a computer to receive e-mail messages and surf the web on the go. Even faster connections are available through an Enhanced General Packet Radio Service or EGPRS. An EGPRS phone can move data up to three times faster than GPRS and can save even more time.