A General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) access point is a wireless data transfer technology that allows a mobile device to access the internet through a cellular network. The GPRS access point is usually a cell phone that has a subscription service with a GPRS provider, which is usually a mobile phone company. Other mobile devices can access the internet by syncing with the GPRS enabled cell phone. This is similar to the way a laptop connects to a wifi access point to access the internet.
The GPRS access point utilizes "2.5G" technology—or technology halfway between 2G and 3G. GPRS is considered an outdated wireless telephone technology, especially since many mobile phone companies have upgraded to 3G speeds. Web browsing speed through a GPRS access point is limited by several factors. Most mobile phone companies limit the speed to about 35 kilobytes per second (kbps), even though GPRS is capable of transferring data at a rate of 115 kbps. Regardless, GPRS is an adequate data transfer protocol for many applications.
By accessing the internet through a GPRS access point, users can browse the internet, log into a chat room, send and receive email, and take part in e-commerce. Most multi-media messages (MMS) are sent through GPRS, but the GPRS connection isn't fast enough for live audio or video conferencing. It usually takes 0.5 to 1.0 seconds for data to pass from the GPRS network to the internet and back, which will cause significant lag in live audio or video.
Despite the less than perfect speeds, a GPRS access point is a life saver when there isn't another internet connection available. Laptops and PDAs can access the internet at the same time when connected through the GPRS access point. Each device will operate as if it had its own internet connection.
There are several ways to connect a laptop to a cell phone that has a GPRS connection including using a cable to connect the laptop. Another method is to use bluetooth technology. Once the two devices are paired, the laptop can easily access the internet. A third way to connect the devices is to utilize the infrared ports, if available. The only problem with this method is that the phone has to be placed close to the laptop, and it can't be moved while using the internet.
A GPRS access point can also be created through a laptop that has a GPRS connect card. Using the internet connection sharing option available on most laptops, a number of devices can be connected to the internet via the laptop. The devices simply have to synced with the laptop.