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What is GPRS Radio?

Patrick Roland
By Patrick Roland
Updated May 17, 2024
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With the rapid advance of mobile phone technology, an older cell phone can't handle the variety of video, music and online capabilities that some users demand. In an attempt to allow older phones to catch up to new third-generation (3G) technology, general packet radio service (GPRS) offers a way to transfer and download data on a mobile phone. This technology, commonly called GPRS radio, has a unique type of billing that differs from a standard phone bill. Also, it offers different classes of speed to cater to specific users' needs.

For some older phones, second-generation (2G) networks aren't enough. This simpler mobile phone support works well for placing and receiving calls but does not provide the speed necessary to handle the data flow of more modern, speedy, 3G phone networks. As a result, GPRS radio was invented and added to 2G phones. The resulting technology is known as 2.5G to signify its position somewhere between the two networks.

GPRS radio communication does not have to depend on the 2G network that made tasks as simple as sending an email something that took minutes to complete. GPRS radio keeps the phone constantly switched on and makes the transfer of data faster. This allows users to jump into the internet immediately and perform the same tasks as they would on the 3G phones. GPRS radio-enabled phones also can view videos, download videos, send instant messages and listen to music all within the confines of a traditional 2G phone.

Beyond the obvious differences in performance, the other major factor that separates GPRS radio is its billing system. Traditional 2G technology billed phone usage by the minute, even when users were downloading and sending data on the internet. This often resulted in expensive bills because the data moved so slowly. To remedy this problem, GPRS radio technology bills by each megabyte of data sent or received. This provides a more accurate bill of the amount of data used with by phone.

To further cater to the needs of users, a GPRS radio-enabled phone comes in a variety of speeds. GPRS speeds are classified as Class 2, Class 4, Class 6, Class 8, Class 10 and Class 12. The higher the class number, the faster that data can be transferred. The various classes refer to the number of time slots, or number of applications that can simultaneously send data, and its overall speed. Each is a different combination of those two factors.

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