The GSM standard was developed as a replacement for first generation (1G) analog cellular networks, and originally described a digital, circuit-switched network optimized for full duplex voice telephony. This was expanded over time to include data communications, first by circuit-switched transport, then packet data transport via GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) and EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution or EGPRS). Subsequently, the 3GPP developed third generation (3G) UMTS standards followed by fourth generation (4G) LTE Advanced standards, which are not part of the ETSI GSM standard. "GSM" is a trademark owned by the GSM Association. It may also refer to the initially most common voice codec used, Full Rate


General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a packet-data technology that allows GSM operators to launch wireless data services, such as e-mail and Internet access. As a result, GPRS provides operators with the ability to use data to drive additional revenue. GPRS is often called a 2.5G technology because it is a GSM operator's first step toward third generation (3G) and a first step in wireless data services.

Although GPRS is a data-only technology, it helps improve GSM voice capacity. When an operator deploys GPRS, it also can upgrade to a vocoder, a new type of voice coder that turns voice into digital signals before they pass across the wireless network. The vocoder uses Adaptive Multi-rate speech transcoding (AMR) technology, which can handle twice as many simultaneous voice calls as a network that uses the old vocoder. As a result, GPRS allows GSM operators to accommodate additional voice traffic without the expense of acquiring additional spectrum.

GPRS supports peak download data rates of up to 115 kbps, with average speeds of 40 to 50 kbps, which is comparable to other 2.5G technologies, such as CDMA2000 1x. GPRS speeds are fast enough for applications such as Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and a web browsing experience comparable to a wired dial-up modem. GPRS also allows customers to maintain a data session while answering a phone call, which is a unique and exclusive feature to GSM. GPRS also provides an always-on data connection, so users do not have to log on each time they want data access. The packet architecture also means that users pay only for the data itself rather than for the airtime used to establish a connection and download data.

GSM / GPRS / EDGE/ 3G / HSDPA / HSPA (plus) and LTE

It can be confusing trying to understand the differences between the various mobile connectivity options listed in the specifications of smartphones and touted by the mobile networks as the best way to connect to the internet. In this guide we will try to summarise these technologies and point out the advantages and disadvantages of each technology.


GSM (Global system for mobile communications) is the standard by which the vast majority of mobile handsets work in Europe and is becoming dominant in other parts of the world with over 2 billion people currently using the system. When you purchase a mobile or smartphone it is important to understand what frequencies are used by each technology because manufacturers and networks have a tendency to quote these figures with little explanation as to what they mean.


GPRS is a system used to transmit data at speeds of up to 60 kbits per second and is a battery friendly way to send and receive emails and to browse the internet but in these days of broadband connectivity it will be seen as slow by some. To set up GPRS connections on your smartphone you will need to obtain specific information from your mobile provider to input into your phone. Most are happy to provide this information and some manufacturers such as Nokia offer pre-configured files that you can install onto your phone for your network. GPRS is a tried and tested system and is therefore very reliable for standard mobile data use and will suit people with moderate data needs. Once you have the required settings in place you can use the network whenever you like and it requires no further adjustment as it works in the background of your internet enabled applications.


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