EDGE Seminar report
The business of wireless data is expected to grow in the region of 100-200 per cent per annum and the mobile communications industry agrees that wireless data services will form the foundation for future business. The enormous success of short messaging in many countries proves that people accept the benefits of non-voice services.
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) as well as the higher transmission speeds of High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD), and the convenience of "always on-line" direct internet connections with General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) these standards enable greater sophistication as end-user services move towards personal multimedia. A new technology, Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) was introduced to boost network capacity and data rates of both circuit switching (HSCSD) and packet switching (GPRS), to meet the demands of wireless multimedia applications and mass market deployment. With the introduction of EDGE in GSM phase 2+, existing services such as GPRS and high-speed circuit switched data (HSCSD) are enhanced by offering a new physical layer. The services themselves are not modified. EDGE is introduced within existing specifications and descriptions rather than by creating new ones.
Many wireless data applications today can be implemented with 9.6kbit/s data. However, bandwidth-hungry fixed line data applications - web browsing, access to corporate data bases, and so on - would benefit from higher transmission speeds when used over the mobile network. HSCSD will significantly improve performance, especially for time-critical applications. GPRS will enable cost-effective wireless access to applications that rely upon data bursts, adding packet switching to GSM with a packet-based air interface on top of the current circuit switched mode of operation. GPRS will provide the connectivity needed in packet-switched data networks such as the Internet. General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) is a packet-based wireless communication service that promises data rates from 56 up to 114 Kbps and continuous connection to the Internet for mobile phone and computer users. The higher data rates will allow users to take part in video conferences and interact with multimedia Web sites and similar applications using mobile handheld devices as well as notebook computers. GPRS is based on Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication and will complement existing services such circuit-switched cellular phone connections and the Short Message Service (SMS).
In theory, GPRS packet-based service should cost users less than circuit-switched services since communication channels are being used on a shared-use, as-packets-are-needed basis rather than dedicated only to one user at a time. It should also be easier to make applications available to mobile users because the faster data rate means that middleware currently needed to adapt applications to the slower speed of wireless systems will no longer be needed. As GPRS becomes available, mobile users of a virtual private network (VPN) will be able to access the private network continuously rather than through a dial-up connection.
GPRS will also complement Bluetooth, a standard for replacing wired connections between devices with wireless radio connections. In addition to the Internet Protocol (IP), GPRS supports X.25, a packet-based protocol that is used mainly in Europe. GPRS is an evolutionary step toward Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE).
EDGE, a new radio interface technology with enhanced modulation, increases the HSCSD and GPRS data rates by up to three fold. EDGE modulation will increase the data throughput provided by the packet switched service even over 400kbit/s per carrier. Similarly, the data rates of circuit switched data can be increased, or existing data rates can be achieved using fewer timeslots, saving capacity. Accordingly, these higher speed data services are referred to as EGPRS (Enhanced GPRS) and ECSD (Enhanced Circuit Switched Data). GPRS allows data rates of 115 kbps and, theoretically, of up to 160 kbps on the physical layer. EGPRS is capable of offering data rates of 384 kbps and, theoretically, of up to 473.6 kbps. A new modulation technique and error-tolerant transmission methods, combined with improved link adaptation mechanisms, make these EGPRS rates possible. This is the key to increased spectrum efficiency and enhanced applications, such as wireless Internet access, e-mail and file transfers. As a modification to existing GSM networks, EDGE does not require new network elements. EDGE is especially attractive to GSM 900, GSM 1800 and GSM 1900 operators that do not have a licence for UMTS, but still wish to offer competitive personal multimedia applications utilising the existing band allocation. Also, EDGE can co-exist with UMTS, for instance to provide high-speed services for wide-area coverage while UMTS is deployed in urban hot spots.
EDGE leverages the knowledge gained through use of the existing GPRS standard to deliver significant technical improvements.
Although GPRS and EDGE share the same symbol rate, the modulation bit rate differs. EDGE can transmit three times as many bits as GPRS during the same period of time. This is the main reason for the higher EDGE bit rates.
The differences between the radio and user data rates are the result of whether or not the packet headers are taken into consideration. These different ways of calculating throughput often cause misunderstanding within the industry about actual throughput figures for GPRS and EGPRS. The data rate of 384 kbps is often used in relation to EDGE. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has defined 384 kbps as the data rate limit required for a service to fulfill the International Mobile
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