GPRS, Edge, 3G and HSDPA what’s the difference?
Thought i’d update this article to include a little bit about 3.75G, see below. Obviously 4G is taking it’s time!!
24/06/2013 – I’ve written a new article about GPRS, 3G and 4G that’s a little more up to date right here
So Mobile networks are at last here and we use them every day as part of our normal business and personal lives. However many people I talk to still get confused with the differences between them. IT’s even more prevalent in the Rugged PDA world because due to the stability of the devices a lot of them tend to lag their “Consumer” equivalents in the GPRS technology they use. Below is a quick overview of some of the most important things you need to know about GPRS.
And in the beginning…
They made GSM modems. Does anyone remember the times we used those horrible 56K modems to connect your desktop to the internet by plugging it into your phone line? Well at first that’s how they did it with mobile phones in a roughly similar way too! Very low data rates of 10kbps and also the fact that you paid for the time you used the service were the main down points of this.
Then came 2G
However with the take up on mobile phones rapidly increasing we saw the switch to digital networks which allowed for better call quality and the SMS service. We started to see the potential for data to be sent using them. 2G was born in the form of GPRS. This allowed data to be sent over a network that was a lot more optimised for data communication.
GPRS was and still is a little bit slow at no more than about 114kbps and unless you have a class 3 device, it can’t support sending data at the same time as a GSM voice call is in session. However this is more than enough for many people’s needs, even today and to add weight to that, the first iPhone was a GPRS device.
Edge a stop-gap
3G was on the way but we saw one more incremental step before this was rolled out. Edge, eGPRS or 2.5G was a technology that gave us 3 fold better data rates with typical 400kbps being heralded by Cingular in the USA by using better coding methods than GPRS. However 120-200kbps is probably more realistic.
Finally 3G Arrives
Finally full 3G was released and it not only gave us more reliable faster data rates of up to 384kbps but it’s based upon a far better platform that allows synchronous voice and data usage. With 3G browsing the web performing more media intensive data work became a reality and in some cases still rivals some broadband connections we have in out homes.
HSDPA and 3.5G, 3.75, 4G and beyond
Currently HSDPA is the standard for most mobile phones. Running at 1.3mbps it rivals most broadband connections and networks are being upgraded across the UK to run at speeds of up to 7.2mbps, coined 4G.
We’re now even starting to see our first 4G devices in the HTC 4G MAX, although we’re actually seeing a trend in 3.75G HSUPA devices being released at the moment, which are actually HSDPA devices but with improved upload speeds too.
Added (19/10/11) HSPA is it a spelling mistake!
Well no and HSPA and also evolved HSPA or HSPA+ are all new acronyms in the 3G world. I’m not going to get technical here, but these protocols are basically the next step in the mobile networks upgrade path. HSPA (Downlaod) and HSUPA (Upload) are pretty much implemented now and devices taking advantage of this can now theoretically reach speeds of 14MBPs on the downlink and 6MBPS up, some networks in the world have reported even more than this. HSPA+ further enhances this up to 80 & 22 MBPS which is now surpassing broadband speeds.
With 3.5G, 3.75G, 4G and now HSPA we really now have no excuse to be connected to the Internet where-ever we go and its only a matter of time before the PDA or mobile phone truly becomes the data tool of choice as our lives become ever mobile.
if you still need some help then give us a call at Rugged and Mobile and we’ll only be too happy to help you choose the right device for you.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.