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Difference Between GPRS and WAP

cellphone-towerGPRS vs WAP
In the old days of mobile internet, manufacturers and designers had a hard time providing internet access that is similar to what computers can achieve with modems and an HTML browser. GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) was the first technology that was successfully implemented into the 2G mobile phone systems to send and receive data between mobile phones and transmission towers. But by itself, GPRS does not provide the mechanisms for user to browse the internet. For that, WAP or the Wireless Application Protocol, was developed. You can think of WAP as a toned down version of HTML while GPRS is a toned down version of dial-up.

GPRS allowed the mobile phone companies to create a digital link where data can be effectively transmitted. But GPRS is not a technology that is exclusively used by WAP alone, other services also use GPRS to transmit data due to several advantages that it offers. One of these is SMS or commonly known as text messages, since using a GPRS connection for SMS results in a greater number of messages that can be sent within a given timeframe.

Theoretically, it is possible to use HTML browsers with mobile phones. But with the very slow GPRS and very weak processing capabilities of mobile phones at that time, HTML browsers are simply not practical. WAP browsers create a smaller and and leaner version of the internet to circumvent the small screens and weak processors of older phones. WML or the Wireless Markup Language was also created to create a separate and smaller set of keywords for use in WAP browsers.

Although these two were a good match before, the advancement of technologies have given better options. EDGE, which is an improvement over GPRS, allowed consumers to use WAP at higher speeds which gave a better internet experience. And the more recent 3G technologies means that there is very little need to stick to WML. Most of the more recent mobile phones can now support full HTML browsing, this gives an indication that WAP would soon be obsolete. Although GPRS is still very common today, it is only a matter of time before the 3G networks take over the areas that are only covered by GPRS as of today. By the time, GPRS would also be obsolete.

1. GPRS is a method of connecting to your provider while WAP is the protocol that runs on top of GPRS
2. WAP is suited for GPRS only connections
3. There are also other services that use GPRS aside from WAP
4. WAP can also be used on EDGE and even on 3G connections

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  1. General Packet Radio Service is a packet-switching technology that enables data transfers through cellular networks. It is used for mobile internet, MMS and other data communications

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