Internet on mobile devices, known as GPRS or General Packet Receiving Service, began with the evolution of mobile phones and especially with the adoption of 2nd generation or 2G mobile networks.
Being the first service to bring data to mobile phones, GPRS networks were able to transmit only a limited amount of data and therefore companies soon started to look out for alternative networks that would not require a complete overhaul of mobile equipment and would yet satisfy data needs.
A new system of data transmission was adopted in the year 2003. It is known as EDGE or Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution.
Although both these services deal with the transmission of data to mobile devices via mobile networks, there is still big confusion amongst users as to what these two things stand for.
To begin with, though both these technologies are related to the transmission of data to mobile devices, due to the advanced or evolved nature of EDGE, it is able to deliver far better data speeds to mobile devices and that too over existing 2G mobile networks.
GPRS offers slower download speeds of up to a maximum of 120 Kbps. On the other hand, EDGE offers speeds of up to 384 Kbps.
In simpler terms, the working of an EDGE connection is similar to that of getting things delivered using multiple channels. So the more channels there are, the more data can be transmitted. That is why EDGE, despite being just an extension of the 2G GSM telephony system, is able to provide faster data transfer rates.
Not only are data speeds increased on EDGE networks, data costs also go up very steeply when a user shifts from GPRS to EDGE.
Currently in India many cellular operators offer GPRS-only data packs that offer anywhere between 3-6 GB of monthly usage — which is practically impossible to completely utilise using a GPRS connection — for a monthly charge ranging from Rs 95 to Rs 150.
On the other hand, on EDGE networks prices across the country are not less than 1 Paisa per KB of data download with postpaid customers getting to download about 600 MB per month free.