General Packet Radio Service, or GPRS, is a wireless communication standard offering data transfer rates between 56 and 114 kilobits per second, making it suitable not only for applications that require small bursts of data, but also for high-volume data applications like video conferencing and multimedia messaging. GPRS uses limited bandwidth quite efficiently, but its performance, as measured by throughput and latency, can vary based on traffic -- the number of users sharing the service at the same time.
In GPRS, data is transferred in “packets” so that the available bandwidth is utilized on a shared-use, as-needed basis instead of being inefficiently dedicated to one user at a time. Therefore, GPRS usage (billing) charges are based on the volume of data transferred and not on connection time, as is the case with circuit-switched connections. GPRS is integrated with the Global System for Mobile, or GSM, and it is a complement for circuit-switched systems, rather than a replacement.
The data rates offered by GPRS make it possible to provide new applications for mobile users at fairly high speeds, including text messaging, Internet access, multimedia messaging, instant messaging, push to talk and video conferencing. GPRS supports and works with different communications protocols, including Internet Protocol for Internet access, X.25 protocol for wireless payment and Bluetooth for establishing wireless connections between devices.