News | November 10, 1999

BT Cellnet Makes GPRS Call Over a Live Network

The wireless industry took an important step toward higher data speeds last weekend as BT Cellnet executed a GPRS data transfer over a live GSM network. The call accessed a remote Web server and downloaded Web pages to a laptop. It demonstrates the first stage of a full commercial GPRS field trial within a defined coverage area due for early next year.

The GPRS service is a high-speed packet data transport service offered over the GSM network. It allows subscribers to send and receive packet information via the GSM radio channels to other packet networks such as the Internet or Corporate Intranets, based on IP (Internet Protocol) networking techniques.

Because it's packet data, one of the bonuses of GPRS is that users can be continuously connected to the Internet without paying for circuit-switched calls. Rather than sending a continuous stream of data over a permanent connection, packet switching only uses the network when data is being sent.

Next year, BT Cellnet plans to introduce the first applications based on GPRS, which will enable mobile users to access the same information they do while in the office. GPRS will also deliver the benefits of mobile Internet to the new generation of Internet-enabled WAP phones.

BT Cellnet's GPRS System Infrastructure

  • Motorola cPCI (industry-standard compact peripheral component interconnect)
  • Motorola SGSN (serving GPRS support node)
  • Motorola PCU (packet controller unit)
  • Cisco 7206 based GGSN (gateway GPRS support node)
  • Sun platforms making up the ISS (Internet support server)
  • Sun OMC-G (operations and maintenance center - GPRS).
  • Motorola's GPRS handsets

Now that the GPRS/GSM testing and integration process is in full swing, BT Cellnet is on target to deliver a commercial trial launch planned for early next year. The corporate trial will include 500 commercial participants and applications such as Internet access, WAP-enabled messages, live financial market updates, and e-mail facilities.