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Monday, February 25, 2002
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Worldphone that lets you globe-trot
Tribune News Service

A NEW general packet radio service (GPRS) mobile phone was launched in India last week by Motorola. The tri-band handset V.66 allows users to stay connected in Asia, Europe and the Americas. This is becoming increasingly important for globe-trotting users using international SIM cards, who want seamless connectivity no matter where they are.

All mobile phones use GSM, ("Groupe de travail Spéciale pour les services Mobiles") the Global System for Mobile Communications, which is the standard for digital cellular communications adopted by over 60 countries. The GSM standard is mostly used in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands.

The General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a new non-voice value added service that allows information to be sent and received across a mobile telephone network. It is, thus, a GSM data transmission technique that does not set up a continuous channel from a portable terminal for the transmission and reception of data, but transmits and receives data in packets. It makes very efficient use of available radio spectrum, and users pay only for the volume of data sent and received. It supplements the circuit switched data (CSD) and short message service (SMS). Though they sound similar, GPRS is not related to GPS (global positioning system).


What is being used these days is the second generation or 2G technology for mobiles, and till the time the 3G technology comes through, various enactments are being offered to customers.

The basic solution provided for moving text via mobile phones is WAP, and in effect GPRS can be seen as a WAP enhancement that allows data to be transferred better. By marketing its latest phone V66 as "the epitome of technology and mobile fashion to India," the company has unwittingly hit the nail on the head.

It is the smallest, lightest tri-band GPRS-enabled worldphone. Weighing 73 grams, the V.66 has a new user interface, zoom-in functions, fully customisable menu, voice-activated dialling, voicenote recording, FM radio capability (with an optional accessory) and an in-built GPRS capability that gives the user adequate speed and efficiency to travel the Web and transmit data.

"India continues to be amongst the fastest growing handset markets in the world and Motorola is focused on tapping this opportunity. We are launching a series of high performance handsets in India over the year to grow our market share here. The V.66 is the second in the series of planned launches this year and is targeted at the mid/high end segment of the market," said U. Narendra Nayak, Country Operations Manager, Motorola India PCS (Personal Communications Systems) division, at the launch.

The V.66 offers smart button operation, which allows the user to answer and end calls as well as access all phone entries with one single button.

How much of a use this service will be remains to be seen because even WAP has only really taken off in Japan while is has not had the desired response in the rest of the world. In India, many of the mobile operators can offer GPRS, but as of now it has only been launched in Bombay by BPL.

There, too, it has a limited appeal, and as a user who was discussing GPRS said, "I really don't think that I need to stare at a small screen while I am stuck in Bombay traffic, and I do have my computers at home and in office."