GSM (Global System for Mobile communication): The Basics
GSM is the digital mobile phone network that is used throughout Europe and in most other areas around the world. GSM can provide for voice-mail (answer phone service), faxing, SMS and high-speed data transfer (WAP) as well as for talk..
GPRS (General Packet Radio System): The Basics
GPRS is a technology that does not replace GSM, but uses the GSM network to allow data to be sent/received at higher speeds.
Further, the technology (without going into the science) allows you to pay only for the time that the information takes to send/receive. This payment method is only valid for the use of WAP (see below) and does not apply when talking.
The advantages of GPRS are further highlighted in the next section.
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
WAP is a technology designed to allow Internet material (web pages, e-mail, etc) to be viewed on mobile phones. WAP browsers on the phone display text-only versions of web pages as images have to be removed due to the limited bandwidth that the network currently has to offer. GSM offers speeds of around 9.6Kbps but the new GPRS has allowed speeds of around 20-24Kbps. The older WAP phones will still use the original GSM network but the new WAP phones that you see available today will use GPRS.
GSM phones have to go through the slow log-in processes when using WAP, but GPRS provides a continuous connection for the day once logged in. As said before, GPRS will allow web pages to be read without the worry of cost because the time used to download the information is the only chargeable period for using WAP (Important: talk time rates will be independently charged): GSM charges for the total time connected.
The information that can be viewed by WAP mobile phones is currently limited to news, finance, directories, travel, shopping, sport and e-mail (detailed later) but can be extremely useful. Although GPRS has expanded the capabilities of WAP such as faxing and e-mailing, the next generation technology will make a huge difference to how we will interact between mobile phones and the Internet.