General packet radio service (GPRS)


General packet radio service (GPRS) is a packet oriented mobile data service on the 2G and 3G cellular communication systems global system for mobile communications (GSM). The service is available to users in over 200 countries. GPRS was originally standardized by European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in response to the earlier CDPD and i-mode packet-switched cellular technologies. It is now maintained by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

GPRS usage charging is based on volume of data, either as part of a bundle or on a pay-as-you-use basis. An example of a bundle is up to 5 GB per month for a fixed fee. Usage above the bundle cap is either charged for per megabyte or disallowed. The pay as you use charging is typically per megabyte of traffic. This contrasts with circuit switching data, which is typically billed per minute of connection time, regardless of whether or not the user transfers data during that period.

GPRS is a best-effort service, implying variable throughput and latency that depend on the number of other users sharing the service concurrently, as opposed to circuit switching, where a certain quality of service (QoS) is guaranteed during the connection. In 2G systems, GPRS provides data rates of 56-114 kbit/second. 2G cellular technology combined with GPRS is sometimes described as 2.5G, that is, a technology between the second (2G) and third (3G) generations of mobile telephony. It provides moderate-speed data transfer, by using unused time division multiple access (TDMA) channels in, for example, the GSM system. GPRS is integrated into GSM Release 97 and newer releases.