Thought for the Day:A Boy's Own GPRS Story

Hard-hitting IT commentator Dr Simons Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.Time, I thought, for a new...

Hard-hitting IT commentator Dr Simons Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.Time, I thought, for a new gadget. So, having upgraded my mobile phone to the tiny, GPRS capable Ericsson T39, I decided to see how well GPRS works. Could I really collect my e-mail on the run or even use my phone as a high-speed, infrared modem for my Compaq IPAQ?

Twenty-four hours after requesting the service from Project Telecom, my Vodafone provider, there was still no evidence it was actually working. More importantly, my phone's instruction manual tells me that I need a network ID and a password to use GPRS. If you can remember the pain of using your first WAP phone, you will know what happened next.

Eventually I managed to persuade Project Telecom to call me back with the settings for the phone. Having entered these, there was still no evidence that GPRS was working and it finally took a "reboot" of the phone before the service was recognised.

The good news? I can select "Services", "eMail", "Send & Receive" and, seconds later, the first six messages from my POP3 Inbox at Easynet, appear on my phone. Six messages are the limit on my Ericsson but it's still instant gratification of a sort.

And it's useful too. I took my small daughter to the zoo today, and I was able to read my mail while she attempted to release the wolves from their enclosure. I suspect I'm suffering from the worst form of e-mail dependency.

Of course, a six-message limit isn't really a stunning advantage, which is why I have my pocket PC, a Compaq IPAQ. The technical support desk at the service provider e-mailed me a six-page guide to setting it up to use GPRS. But could I get my Compaq IPAQ to work with the Ericsson first time? Of course I couldn't. Many conversations later with the support desk, we were still no nearer understanding why the pocket PC attempts to dial out and then drops out.

Rescue came via Microsoft. The answer was "*99# " in the phone number field, and not "99***1", as suggested by Project Telecom. Moments later, my IPAQ is browsing the Web and picking up my e-mail almost as quickly, it seems, as my PC on the network. Better pass the answer back to Vodafone.

So score one for Microsoft and for GPRS. It works, it's a little expensive but it solves my mobile connectivity problems. Next step then is to get the BlackBerry PDA I've been promised to work, so more fun and games to come, perhaps?
So if you're even thinking about GPRS over good old GSM, then watch this space!

Are you eager for GPRS, or does it all sound a little complicated? >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your response is not for publication.

Zentelligence: Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and ramblings of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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