2General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and EDGE

In the mid‐1980s voice calls were the most important service in fixed and wireless networks. This is the reason why GSM was initially designed and optimized for voice transmission. Since the mid‐1990s, however, the importance of the Internet has been constantly increasing. GPRS, the General Packet Radio Service, enhanced the GSM standard to transport data in an efficient manner and enabled wireless devices to access the Internet. With Enhanced Datarates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), further additions were specified to improve speed and latency.

While GPRS and EDGE were initially well suited for applications such as web browsing, the complexity of web pages and the resulting amount of data grew considerably over time. In addition, the number of devices on the network increased significantly over time as well and network overload in areas not covered by LTE or UMTS are now commonplace. As a consequence, the system is no longer suitable even for small‐screen web browsing in most circumstances today and has become a niche technology, mainly useful for legacy applications such as embedded devices that only transfer small amounts of data by today’s standards. As many embedded devices are only replaced or upgraded after a long usage period, however, it is likely that many EDGE networks will remain in service for quite some time to come.

The following overview of GPRS and EDGE is structured as follows: In the first part, the advantages and ...

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