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General packet radio service (GPRS) is a mobile service that can be found on second generation (2G) wireless technology and upgraded second generation (2.5G) cellular networks. A GPRS Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card can be used on this network in order to receive data. This service is primarily used in Europe and Asia, although it can be found in some areas of Canada.
One advantage that GPRS networks have over other types of cellular networks is that companies are able to charge for the actual data sent instead of a flat connection rate. A 2G network service that uses a GPRS SIM card is also easier on a cell phone battery. This helps promote smaller cell phones since the batteries do not have to be as large as ones required for more power-intensive networks.
A GPRS SIM card enables a cell phone to receive several different services. Always-on Internet access allows the phone to constantly be connected to the Internet instead of having to wait for the phone to establish a connection. Multimedia messaging service is an advance that the all-digital nature of GPRS allowed, and some models also feature push-to-talk and instant messaging (IM). These cell phones are also able to use applications that are designed to take advantage of a wireless application protocol (WAP).
General packet radio services are offered as value-added packages from cell phone providers. Typically, a person picks a data plan as an additional part of a cell phone plan. The data transfer rate that a GPRS SIM card can achieve ranges between 56 to 114 kilobytes per second (Kbps), which is slower than third generation (3G) networks, which can achieve speeds of up to 14 megabytes per second (MBps). This type of phone is a marked improvement over earlier cell phone networks, although the introduction of 3G has led to a decrease in popularity for the 2G network.
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