General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) email is email that utilizes the GPRS protocol, which is used to connect mobile devices, such as cell phones, to the internet. Email data is transferred through a mobile phone network instead of a standard internet service provider. The GPRS protocol allows individuals to send and receive email from a cell phone, as long as it accesses a web based email service hosted on a Post Office Protocol (POP) server. Under certain circumstances, GPRS email can also access an email server that is located on a Local Area Network (LAN).
GPRS is defined as a packet-switching technology that enables data transfer through cellular networks. It is an "always on" service, which means the mobile device receives data from the network instantaneously. This has enabled the use of several web based applications on mobile devices including web browsing, chat, e-commerce, and email.
Sending email with a cellular phone that uses GPRS is fast, but it isn't the fastest data transfer protocol available. At its limit, GPRS delivers a speed of 115 kilobytes per second (kbps), but most mobile phone networks that offer GPRS email operate around 35 kbps. GPRS is generally referred to as 2.5G technology, which is considered between the second (2G) and third (3G) generation of wireless telephone technology.
The 3G version of GPRS email uses the Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE) protocol. It is commonly referred to as enhanced GPRS, or EGPRS. EDGE email is nearly three times faster than GPRS email, with a maximum speed of 473 kbps. Most networks cap it around 135 kbps, however. Both the cell phone and network must be compatible with the EDGE protocol to transfer data; otherwise, the data will transfer through the default GPRS.
In addition to accessing web based email accounts, GPRS can be used to access company email accounts that are typically protected by a firewall on a LAN. Usually, the best way to access these email accounts is to first redirect the email to a web based service. If security concerns prevent this method, it is recommended to request access to the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) for the LAN.
After the initial setup, accessing email through a cell phone becomes very convenient. Having instant communication between co-workers increases productivity. It is recommended to limit GPRS email messages to text only, since GPRS costs are based on the amount of data sent.