- General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) is a packet-based wireless communication service that promises data rates from 56 up to 114 Kbps and continuous connection to the Internet for mobile phone and computer users. The higher data rates allow users to take part in video conferences and interact with multimedia Web sites and similar applications using mobile handheld devices as well as notebook computers. GPRS is based on Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication and complements existing services such circuit-switched cellular phone connections and the Short Message Service (SMS).
In theory, GPRS packet-based services cost users less than circuit-switched services since communication channels are being used on a shared-use, as-packets-are-needed basis rather than dedicated to only one user at a time. It is also easier to make applications available to mobile users because the faster data rate means that middleware currently needed to adapt applications to the slower speed of wireless systems are no longer be needed. As GPRS has become more widely available, along with other 2.5G and 3G services, mobile users of virtual private networks (VPNs) have been able to access the private network continuously over wireless rather than through a rooted dial-up connection.
GPRS also complements Bluetooth, a standard for replacing wired connections between devices with wireless radio connections. In addition to the Internet Protocol (IP), GPRS supports X.25, a packet-based protocol that is used mainly in Europe. GPRS is an evolutionary step toward Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE) and Universal Mobile Telephone Service (UMTS).