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What Is a GPRS GSM?

A GPRS GSM device can transmit packets of data over cellular network towers.
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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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A GPRS GSM is a type of data transmission that sends information in grouped packets, digitally, across wireless networks. The term may also be used to refer to cellular devices that utilize this technology. Data may be sent more quickly using GPRS GSM than a traditional GSM connection.

GPRS stands for general packet radio service. Data — whether voice, text, or picture — can be transmitted wirelessly across air waves. This information can be grouped together into larger data segments, which are then known as packets. Users are typically billed according to the size of the packets sent each month. Plans may be purchased that allow up to a certain number of gigabytes to be transferred monthly before overage charges begin.

Circuit switching is the more commonly used type of information transfer available on cellular GSM networks. This establishes a constant connection between two network nodes, such as two cellular phones or two computers. Information is then transferred across this secured line until the connection is broken. Users are generally charged according to the amount of time spent using the connection, regardless of whether communication was occurring during the entirety of the connection.

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GSM stands for global system for mobile communications, and is the standard for mobile communications for large portions of Europe and many other countries. This network allows any type of data — voice, or otherwise — to travel using digital channels. A GSM cellular network can use GPRS to quickly transmit data between cellular devices. It is typically used by the second (2G) and third (3G) generations of cellular technologies.

A GPRS GSM device could access existing cellular network towers and transmit packets of data quickly. This type of device can operate at speeds between 56 and 114 kilobits per second (kbps). These speeds are often referred to as 2.5G, as they are capable of exceeding second generation technology speeds, but do not outpace third generation technologies, which can send data at speeds of 200 kbps.

Cellular carriers typically use either a GSM or CDMA network. CDMA means code division multiple access, and uses some radio frequencies to create bandwidth through which data can be exchanged. This type of network, which is commonly found in the U.S., is also known as 3G technology due to the speeds at which it can operate. A GPRS GSM device cannot be used on a CDMA network.

LTE technology is the fourth generation of technology in the evolution of cellular devices. This type can transmit data at speeds between two and five megabits per second (Mbps), or between 2,048 and 5,120 kbps. It is incompatible with devices using either the GSM or CDMA networks, and requires LTE-specified cellular phones for usage.

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