Remember the time when your cell phone was only used for making and answering calls and texting people? Mobile phones were not complicated, were they?
Following the advent of smart phones there emerged mobile internet networks aimed primarily at getting people connected with the online world. Digital mobile technology like GPRS, Edge and 3G has, as a result, been advertised in several media outlets. These telecommunication-related abbreviations and acronyms are mentioned so often that they are becoming like normal words that we are all supposed to know.
The question is: In a world where digital communication has become like one of the necessities of life, how well do we consumers understand the choices available in the market and how best can we make use of it?
GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Service. It is the mobile data service which came after the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) cellular network. GPRS is referred to as the 2.5G and is the link between the second and third generation of wireless internet technology.
While users of the GSM network are required to pay for the total duration of their internet connection, GPRS users on the other hand are billed per megabyte of transferred data. And GPRS apparently caters for faster data transfer. In theory, while the data transfer rate of GSM is approximately 9-10kbps (kilobits per second), GPRS is capable of transferring data at the rate of around 30-40kbps.
GPRS can be used for a wide range of mobile services including Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) as well as other internet communication services such as email and website access.
One of the good things about GPRS is that the service allows users to answer phone calls while data transfer is processing. This system is called "Always On".
Simply put, Edge (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) or Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS) is a faster version of GSM wireless internet service. It has been developed from GPRS and been designed particularly to deliver data at a faster rate. Edge allows four times faster data transfer than GPRS _ or approximately 150-170kbps to be more precise.
Due to speedier data transfer capability, Edge is usually used for wireless data transfer purposes such as sharing pictures and videos or browsing the internet via a mobile phone connection.
Edge is sometimes referred to as 2.75G.
Finally, the third generation of the wireless telecommunication technology was released globally with a number of enhancements over previous wireless technologies. 3G allows high-speed data transmission and advanced multimedia access.
Obviously 3G allows several times higher data transfer speed as well as enhanced audio and video streaming. With 3G, users can have video conferences, internet television and web browsing at higher speeds. A service provider in Thailand said 3G can give users up to 7.2mbps (megabit per second) data transfer rate, depending on the device's specification, the area and the numbers of 3G users in that particular location at that very moment.
What is required to use this service is a device which is 3G-compatible. For example, if you have a 3G-compatible smart phone, it is to be connected with 3G network via a SIM card usually provided by a service provider. So whenever you are at places where the 3G network is available, you can connect to the internet. However, your devices will be automatically connected to Edge or GPRS when they are at locations where the 3G service is not available.
In Thailand, 3G networks are available in Bangkok as well as in many other provinces, especially major cities like Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Phuket and Pattaya and Chon Buri. However, the ability to get connected to the network also depends on what service provider your phone number is registered with.
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi or Wireless Fidelity is a means through which computers connect to the wireless internet network. These days almost all computers, especially laptops, are equipped with a built-in Wi-Fi receptor, allowing them to be connected to the internet with no wire required. Other devices such as mobile phones and tablets are also Wi-Fi compatible which means they can connect to the wireless network as well.
However, Wi-Fi does have some limitations. A Wi-Fi network depends solely on internet signal strength from a wireless router or an access point, without which users are not able to connect to the internet.
Thailand's three mobile service providers _ Dtac, True and AIS _ offer several different mobile internet packages for users, each of which caters for different purposes and usages.
- 790 baht: Unlimited internet connection (suitable for heavy internet users)
- 650 baht: No more than 3GB data transmission (suitable for users who often connect to the internet via smart phones)
- 99 baht: No more than 30MB data download (suitable for occasional internet users)
- 99 baht: No more than 20 hours of internet connection (suitable for light users)
- 699 baht: Unlimited Wi-Fi, no more than 3GB of data transmission through 3G and 3GB through Edge/GPRS (suitable for tablets)
- 399 baht: No more than 10 hours of Wi-Fi connection, no more than 500MB of data transmission through 3G and 500MB through Edge/GPRS (suitable for smart phones)
- 129 baht: No more than 5 hours of Wi-Fi connection, no more than 100MB of data transmission through 3G and 100MB through Edge/GPRS (suitable for users who love chatting online)
- 950 baht: No more than 5GB of data transmission through 3G and 500MB through Edge/GPRS (suitable for heavy internet users/tablets)
- 550 baht: No more than 3GB of data transmission through 3G and 250MB through Edge/GPRS (suitable for heavy internet users)
- 350 baht: No more than 1.5GB of data transmission through 3G and 150MB through Edge/GPRS (suitable for occasional internet users)
- 150 baht: No more than 500MB of data transmission through 3G and 50MB through Edge/GPRS (suitable for light internet users)
(Prices are not inclusive of VAT)