Overview of Mobile Data Technology

by Orange


WAP, or Wireless Application Protocol, has been developed to bring Internet content to mobile phones and other wireless devices. This means that users can easily access Web-based interactive information services and applications from their mobile phones or PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants).  It is ideal for services such as email, news, weather, travel or ticket-booking, to name but a few.

Although there are a relatively limited number of WAP users and content providers at present, the advent of other supporting technologies will increase the possibilities for WAP services.  Moreover, WAP is supported by most wireless networks and can be built on any operating system. This will ensure that the benefits of WAP are practically unlimited and that accessing Internet content on a mobile handset will become a reality (as long as that information can be displayed in a form suitable for viewing on a small screen).

Orange High Speed Data

For workers who spend a large proportion of their time on the move, visiting clients and disparate work sites, for example, the speed at which data has traditionally been transferred has not been fast enough for them to work efficiently on the move.

To combat this problem, Orange launched Orange High Speed Data in August 2000 - the UK's first mobile high speed data transmission facility, which uses HSCSD technology (high speed circuit switched data).

This system makes the transfer of data over mobile networks up to three times faster than standard circuit-switched networks (28.8 kbps compared to 9.6 kbps previously). Orange High Speed Data provides guaranteed bandwidth, making it suitable to support real-time data applications or dedicated file transfer. For example, immediate transfer of files or streaming audio and video applications is a real possibility, as well as corporate LAN access from wherever you are.

Orange High Speed Data functions in a similar manner to standard GSM data services, just substantially faster.  However, to take advantage of this speed improvement, and the range of applications this makes possible, new handsets and a new SIM card are required.

A popular choice of kit used to access High Speed Data is the PC data card, manufactured by Nokia, which Orange launched in August 2000. This card plugs directly into the PC and acts as a wireless modem, providing laptop users with the high-speed data connection while relieving them of the complexities of cable connections and software configurations.

Applications such as mobile location and navigation services, including maps and graphics, benefit significantly from High Speed Data, as they become more practical and easier to use.  Also, by using compression techniques, High Speed Data is capable of supporting completely new applications, such as mobile video. The PC data card allows users to keep their existing mobile phones for voice, and connect the card to their laptop to access high-speed data.

Another device that supports Orange High Speed Data is the Compaq iPaq handheld computer. The iPaq comes with standard applications like Word, Excel, Outlook, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player, and is not much bigger than a calculator. When fitted with a special 'jacket', a Nokia data card can be slotted into the back of the iPaq, allowing the user to connect to the Web and send email, and even make voice calls.


General Packet Radio Services, or GPRS, is the next major technology to perpetuate the mobile revolution and facilitates instant connections for wireless devices. It represents a significant change in the way in which voice and data calls are managed and processed, as no dial-up modem connection is necessary. This means that the user is 'always connected', eliminating the need for customers to set up a call each time data is being transmitted. The system has been developed with the Internet in mind and so is especially suited to Web browsing, chat and email.

Both HSCSD and GPRS technologies will offer different and ultimately complimentary services. Orange is the only UK network that provides both of these services, as part of its Orange Data Access portfolio allowing mobile workers to access information and remain in contact wherever, whenever and however they want to.

To effectively combine the complimentary benefits of both Orange High Speed Data and GPRS, devices are now available that will support both services thereby giving the user the most cost-effective and user-friendly access to the widest possible range of applications, such as Microsoft Office applications, Web browsing and connecting to corporate networks.

New handsets, such as the Ericsson T68 combine the best features of a phone and a PDA, allowing the user to access the Internet, email and WAP sites via either Orange High Speed Data or GPRS, depending upon its suitability for a particular application.

The mobile data technology that will follow GPRS is called UMTS (also known as 3G, or third generation).  By adopting data services that are based upon GPRS today, users will be able to experience the type of services that will be available via 3G in the near future. GPRS gives us an insight into the future of mobile data services and 3G will enhance the user experience still further.


3G services have been launched in the UK by ‘3’ and  require a completely new communications technology to be deployed by GSM operators. However, prior to widespread the arrival of 3G, it is expected that the majority of GSM operators in Western Europe will deploy high-speed data services based upon HSCSD or GPRS.  The remainder, who probably have low penetration rates, are unlikely to invest in either technology and will await the widespread availability of 3G.  However, for the majority, 3G must be considered as a strategic option, assuming the operators have been granted a licence by their national regulator, to offer comprehensive multimedia services to mobile customers. 

Looking forward to when 3G becomes widely available, operators and users will benefit from the technology it is capable of offering:


Telemetry can be described as machine-to-machine communication for the purpose of monitoring and control.

In its simplest form telemetry consists of the sending and receiving of data between electronic devices.  It enables data such as temperature, flow rate, number of units and information from computers (such as alarms, inventory status) to be monitored.  A telemetry system can also be used for controlling devices, e.g. switching on/off a process or opening /closing valves.

Technologies for the transmission of data include GSM, GPRS, UMTS, short wave radio (such as Bluetooth) and wireless LAN.

The provision of telemetry services requires co-operation between a number of participants within the telemetry value chain. This could include:

“Orange” and “wirefree” are trademarks of Orange.

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011

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