A Guide To Wireless Application Protocol

The faster data capabilities of GPRS have benefited wireless application protocol (WAP) technology. WAP allows specially written Internet pages to appear on the screen of mobile phones. It is used for travel information, sports headlines, and e-mail — anything where you need concise information within seconds. To use WAP, all you need is a WAP-compatible mobile phone, which comes with a micro-browser similar to the web browser. Like dial-up Internet, WAP was slow in the early days and earned a bad reputation. It used the GSM network and suffered from its low data rates, slow connection times and occasional busy lines. With the coming of GPRS, performance changed for the better. You can have instantaneous connection with the always-on feature of GPRS. And billing can be based on the amount of data used (i.e., sent and received), not connection time using circuit-switched data (CSD).

For surfing WAP pages over GPRS, you need a GPRS handset. Most handsets these days come with GPRS, although some carriers indicate GPRS capability by stating “photo message capable.” You will also need to subscribe to a WAP service. Because of WAP’s poor reputation in the past, most companies providing WAP services these days prefer to market them by other names. WAP services are available not only from major carriers, but also from airline and stock trading companies. The services include a collection of WAP pages packaged up and sold as a basic service in addition to their other offerings such as games and MMS.

One of the drawbacks of WAP is you can access only WAP sites — not any site on the Internet. To have wireless access to the Internet using GPRS, you have to go without using WAP pages. In this case, your mobile phone serves as a modem. You’ll need either a PDA or laptop, which must be connected to your mobile phone using Bluetooth or infrared or a data cable.

GPRS Pricing

How is GPRS charged? Carriers charge GPRS on a per kilobyte basis. As with most wapmobile data services, there are two pricing elements: the item you’re purchasing (e.g., a ring tone or news item) and the GPRS charge for accessing and using the service. Carriers are also offering GPRS access (without services) on a postpaid contract.

Now that you have GPRS, will SMS be charged based on the amount of data used or on a per message basis? Most carriers prefer to charge SMS on a per message basis since text messages (up to 160 characters) can be transmitted over GSM or GPRS. You choose the appropriate settings for your phone.

Can GPRS be used while roaming? It is possible with almost all networks. You should have a GPRS handset, and you should activate roaming before you go overseas. The GPRS roaming charges will appear on your bill, just like roaming charges for voice calls.

All mobile data are charged on a per kilobyte basis. Some carriers offer laptop customers the opportunity to access the Internet on the road by purchasing a NetConnect card that plugs into your laptop.

You are charged only 0.1c/ KB if you go on a capped plan that allows up to a certain worth of data usage — which translates to 500MB of data. Data rates of up to 384 kbps are possible with NetConnect cards, provided you are surfing on 3G’s video zones (areas where you can make video calls). If 3G coverage isn’t available, the software seamlessly initiates a connection with the GPRS network so data can still be sent and received, although at a reduced speed. Unfortunately roaming charges are not included in the cap. For more information, you can call on O2 Contact Number

James Mathews

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