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A General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) provider is typically a mobile phone company that offers GPRS technology on their cellular network. Some of the companies which may offer GPRS include O2, Vodafone, and T-Mobile. Usually, the mobile phone company will enable GPRS for a particular user on the cellular network through a subscription service. The GPRS provider will set the speed of the service as well as the cost, which is usually based on the amount of data that is transferred over the cellular network. In order for the service to work, the user must own a GPRS enabled phone.
GPRS is a wireless data transfer protocol that is used to connect mobile devices to the internet. It operates through the cellular network, instead of an internet service provider. Users of the service can browse the web, engage in chat, send email, and take part in e-commerce. Most multi-media messaging services (MMS) utilize GPRS to send and receive messages.
The GPRS provider typically sets the speed of the service, which can range between 35 kilobytes per second (kbps) to 115 kbps. The speed is dependent on network availability, channel coding scheme, and terminal capability. Generally, the GPRS provider ensures that users are always connected to the network. GPRS is considered 2.5G speed, which is between the second (2G) and third (3G) generation of wireless telephone technology. A GPRS provider generally has the network foundation to build a 3G network.
A GPRS provider charges a fixed rate for the service, usually on a per megabyte basis. For example, the GPRS provider may charge $30 US Dollars (USD) per megabyte. This seems like a lot, but 1 megabyte is 500-1000 web pages, depending on the content. The average user views about 100 web pages a month on a mobile device, which comes to roughly $6 USD per month. Many mobile phone companies will bundle data packages with voice service to reduce costs.
Typically, mobile phone companies will have agreements with each other regarding GPRS roaming. Roaming is the continued connectivity between the cell phone and the network, regardless of the location of the user. Usually, the network to which a user is subscribed isn't available in other countries. In order to maintain connectivity, the cell phone accesses the network through another cellular network. Accessing data through GPRS, while roaming on another network, generally costs more than the standard rate charged by a mobile phone company.