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I love GPRS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Sep-2006 18:47

Yes, no kidding. The title is correct. Seriously though, I have two 3G Pocket PCs: an i-mate Jasjar connected to Vodafone NZ WCDMA network, and a TNZ Apache connected to Telecom New Zealand's CDMA 1xEV-DO network.

My main phone is the Jasjar, because of my old phone number (which I've been using for the last, what, seven years?). It's not the smallest Pocket PC in the world, and obviously you need to have a Bluetooth headset, otherwise you look like a dork with such a huge device hanging from your face during a phone call.

But you can't beat Telecom New Zealand's CDMA EVDO (for now) data speeds. The Apache is great and I use it frequently as a modem for my tablet PC. I can get speeds between 500Kbps and 800Kpbs (while on the Jasjar it won't pass the 250Kbps mark).

Of course everyone wants more and more speed. Vodafone has introduced their HSDPA offering, with speeds of up to 1.4Mbps (although the official words is that some centres will have up to 3.6Mbps available, but this is the max theoretical). But that was before devices to access the network were available, and I was probably the only user on a specific cell site.

Back to the point: GPRS. An ancient packet switched technology, which most companies promised to be "always-on, fast" Internet. Reality sunk in after GPRS became popular. It wasn't always on, because devices would disconnect the data session when an incoming voice call was announced to the handset. It wasn't fast because of its dial-up speed and high latency. And the only applications were WAP portals with almost no content and badly designed applications.

Moving forward to 2006. We have WCDMA (which some try to call UMTS, but let's have its name here) with max theoretical speeds of up to 384Kbps, CDMA 1xEV-DO with max speeds of 2Mbps but going up to 100+Mbps in a few years, and HSDPA with speeds of 14Mbps in a couple of years. And we still have GPRS, with speeds of up to 42Kbps.

Why I love it? I just sent my i-mate Jasjar for a special place for a special surgery. In the meantime, I moved its SIM card to my old i-mate Pocket PC Phone (the first i-mate device around here) and I am surprised how fast the device is in comparison to the newer Pocket PCs, even though the newer CPUs are faster, and the devices have more memory.

I am also surprise on how responsive the GPRS data is flowing. Seriously you can't connect your laptop through this Pocket PC and expect fast speeds. But I have some specific requirements, such as push e-mail and single connection to a server, and for that it serves me well.

I am using this Pocket PC to connect to my Microsoft Exchange Server for e-mail, calendar and contacts synchronisation. It performs thesse actions while in my Pocket PC, so I really don't care if it takes 20 seconds or 60 seconds. And it does it fast because it is a single connection to a single server.

Another example of single connection application I am using and surprised me today was RSS feed reading. I run my own Newsgator Enterprise Server, and it serves me with a PDA friendly webpage. Since this is a single connection, basically text only, to a single server, it is actually extremely fast. And that's not WAP, but full HTML. I actually haven't been to a WAP page in years.

It is like the RIM BlackBerry devices. Most of them are still connected to the GPRS network. And do you notice it? No, because you only know about the e-mails arriving. You probably don't even notice the e-mails flowing to the device. But they are still coming on the slow GPRS network (of course, except on the new latest BlackBerry models coming out now).

So, yes. I am using GPRS these days on my Pocket PC, and I am enjoying it. Of course when I need to do some serious work, here comes the Apache for some broadband speeds (or some HSDPA in the near future?)

Horses for courses, as they say...






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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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