Local GSM operators eye GPRS rollout late this year

Existing GSM phone providers are targeting to deploy GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) by the fourth quarter of the year. - By Edu H.
Written by Edu H. Lopez, Contributor
Existing GSM phone providers are targeting to deploy GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) by the fourth quarter of the year. - By Edu H. Lopez

Manila, 23 May 2000 (Manila Bulletin) - The existing WAP phones offered by both SMART Communications and Globe Telecom will work on GPRS which has faster speed than the existing GSM platform.

GPRS is a packetbased 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 will 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 will complement existing services such circuitswitched cellular phone connections and the Short Message Service (SMS).

GPRS packetbased service would cost users less than circuitswitched services since communication channels are being used on a shared-use, as-packets-are-needed basis rather than dedicated only to one user at a time.

It should also be 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 will no longer be needed.

Once GPRS becomes available, mobile users of a virtual private network (VPN) will be able to access the private network continuously rather than through a dial-up connection.

GPRS will also complement 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).

"Ericsson is well positioned not only for GPRS but also for 3G (Third Generation) mobile telephone which is the next step in getting the global technology," said Ulf Jervinge, director for consumer products division.

3G is the next generation of technology that would give subscribers access not just to voice but to more bandwidth-hungry applications such as video clips and stock trading over the mobile phones.

Jervinge said there are about 50 GSM operators worldwide that have signed up with Ericsson on the GPRS technology.

"Local operators are advanced in offering services. When I went to Europe the focus of WAP is not as big compared to the Philippines because Filipino subscribers are used to text messaging and are prepared for this WAP technology," Jervinge said.

The Philippines, known as the text capital of the world, send more text messages than Europe combined, Jervinge said.

"This is very amazing and that is why the Philippines will accept faster WAP technology than Europe." Both SMART Communications and Globe Telecom are putting more emphasis on WAP, Jervinge said.

New handsets are required when GPRS is deployed in the future. WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) would be the same protocol that will be used in GPRS, Jervinge added.

He foresees a third local telecommunications company to offer GSM (Global Standard for Mobile Communications) cellular phones service.

Jervinge said that a third operator would likely emerged as he predicts an explosion of cellular phones in Metro Manila alone.

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