Not everyone is aware that General Packet Radio Service or GPRS is available as a pay-as-you-go service. Prepaid GPRS allows consumers to enjoy all the functions of any type of GPRS service, without the need to commit to contract or pay for features they never use. As with other GPRS services, prepaid GPRS providers may share common channels and make use of such features as data transfer capabilities, instant messaging, Internet browsing, and access to email.
Prepaid GPRS can be especially helpful for travelers who want the service for a limited period of time. It is possible to purchase a GPRS cell phone or handheld device upon arriving at the destination, and establish the service within a matter of minutes. Customers can purchase GPRS SIM cards at the same time, install them in the unit, and be ready to go in twenty to thirty minutes. Many of the units come with a set amount of airtime or access minutes with the original purchase, which allows the consumer to enjoy use of the device from the very first day.
In the event that the original bank of airtime minutes is not sufficient, most service providers produce recharge cards offering different amounts of additional time. These can often be purchased at outlets featuring the brand and type of device, as well as many supermarkets and other retail outlets within the area. In some cases, it is possible to access a web site operated by the service provider and purchase additional airtime online. Typically, the purchased time is applied to the account balance immediately.
Most prepaid GPRS services offer a full range of features to their clients. This is because prepaid services make use of the same basic GPRS technology that drives the contract based GPRS networks. In some cases, a provider may offer both contracted and prepaid plans that operate on the same platform. Providers that operate in multiple countries may offer SIM cards for each nation where service is available.
Securing a SIM card for each nation may not be necessary from a user perspective, but it may help reduce the costs associated with the use of the service. Since only a few prepaid GPRS providers currently offer free international roaming as part of their basic service packages, purchasing a card for each nation on the travel itinerary can help keep costs as low as possible. Since installing a SIM card can be accomplished in a matter of seconds, it is possible to switch cards when crossing into a new country, connect with the in-country network, and continue to use the services with a minimum of downtime.