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GPRS technology to boost wireless Internet in HK
Posted: 21-Jul-2000 [Source: Reuters]

[Hong Kong carriers are getting ready for the GPRS rollout.]

Hong Kong -- "The wireless Internet -- which to date has been heavy on hype and short on substance -- will soon cross a technology threshold in Hong Kong when wireless carriers begin rolling out upgraded networks featuring always-on packet switching technology.

"Called GPRS, for General Packet Radio Service, the technology is an interim step before carriers using the GSM standard migrate to higher-capacity third-generation, or 3G technology, over the next few years.

"Also known as 2.5G, GPRS is faster than current technology and features always-on capability that is expected to make wireless Internet access faster and easier to use.

"Current wireless Internet offerings using a programming language called WAP, or wireless application protocol, have met with muted customer response -- in part because of slow access and because users must dial-in each time they wish to use it, industry sources say.

"Some critics also complain that current WAP-based content is underwhelming, as are WAP-enabled handsets.

"But always-on packet switching -- which provides for more efficient transmission of data by breaking it into pieces and sending it via the quickest route -- is expected to remove a key hurdle to the development of the wireless Internet.

"... Hong Kong mobile carriers, including SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings , Sunday and the Hutchison Telecom unit of Hutchison Whampoa have said they plan to offer GPRS service beginning later this year -- although a dearth of handsets could put a brake on wide rollout until early next year, some in the industry warn.

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