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Understanding the differences between GPRS and EVDO begins with an understanding of the abbreviations. GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Service, and EVDO stands for Evolution Data Optimized, is also known as EGPRS, or Enhanced General Packet Radio Service. In plain and simple terms, EVDO is a new generation version of GPRS.
Both formats are two types of mobile or wireless device protocols. This means they transmit data over the air. They are part of the technologies that go by the names of GSM or Global System for Mobile Communication and CDMA, which stands for Code Division Multiple Access. Both GPRS and EVDO are considered part of CDMA technology. This means that they both work in a similar fashion.
Though both of these are mobile communication technologies, they differ from each other in one major respect. GSM allows up to eight users to use the same frequency, which is divided into channels that can be used by different users in the network. EVDO, on the other hand, is more seamless because it allows all the frequencies of the network to be occupied at once, while allowing each caller its own space.
With the explosion of information that consumers transmit on mobile phones, they are now used for many other purposes besides just making calls. Thus, speed in data transmission has become essential. GPRS is a slower network than EVDO, so may be less attractive to consumers.
Both GPRS and EVDO work in much the same way in which traditional, standard Internet Protocol (IP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) work. EVDO, however, transmits data from the phone and the network with the use of data packets. This means it is able to use less bandwidth, and thus transmit data at greater speeds.
GPRS, in real life conditions can transmit data at speeds of 128 kbps. Under the same conditions, EVDO can transmit data at a speed of 600 kbps. In fact, theoretically, EVDO can transmit data at speeds of 2 mbps.
Of course, there are major variations in actual speed depending on a number of factors, but in most situations there is a big difference between the speed of data transfer on GPRS versus on EVDO. Because of the enhanced speed, EVDO is considered a potential milestone in mobile communication, and is referred to in technology parlance as 3G or Third Generation technology.