Progress has made some of my previous articles on Palm Connectivity obselete. One which has passed it’s due date is my article onhow to connect your PalmOS PDA to the Internet using an IRDA capable handphone. When I wrote it 2 years ago, the connection was via GSM data transfer and the 9.6 kbps transfer rate was acceptable. Nowadays GSM data transfer is considered passe, instead GPRS is the in-thing right now. Although GPRS has been a regular feature amongst most Malaysian telcos, I never bothered to update that connectivity article since I don’t have a GPRS capable phone. But due to persistent request from fellow users and readers, I capitulated and borrowed a GPRS capable phone, a Sony Ericsson r520m from a fellow Palm-X reviewer, .


GPRS is an abbreviation for General Packet Radio Services. In comparison to the normal circuit switched platform, this feature gives you increased connection speed when accessing the Internet while you are on the move. Usually it is as fast as 44 kbps but theoretically the transfer speed can reach up to 171.2 kbps. GPRS uses packet switching technology where data is sent in short bursts over the GSM network. You will need to have aGPRS compatible phonesuch as the Sony Ericsson r520m, in order to utilise the service. It is also called 2.5G since it is supposed to be the intermediate technology before 3G come into being in Malaysia.

This article will give on overview on the GPRS services available locally and demonstrate on how to configure your PDA and your phone so that you can try it out yourself.

The Telcos

Currently only Maxis and Digi have officially launched their GPRS services. It is available for both prepaid and postpaid accounts of Digi, while for Maxis it is available only for their postpaid accounts. Celcom has beenshowcasing their GPRS systemsince September last year. Currently their postpaid account users can try it out for free during the trial period. There is still no news of its official launch yet.(Update Sept 03 – Celcom officially launched their GPRS service).

The most popular seems to be the Digi GPRS since it is available even for the prepaid accounts. The charges seems reasonable in comparison with others. This is clearly illustrated by the following table.

Digi Pre Digi Post Maxis Celcom
GPRS Registration Fee (one time) None None RM5.00
(updated 30/4/03)
(updated 8/9/03)
GPRS and WAP Monthly Fee None None RM5.00
(updated 30/4/03)
(updated 8/9/03)
GPRS Usage RM0.10 per 10 KB RM0.05 per 10KB RM0.15 per 10KB
(updated 30/04/03)
RM0.20 per 10KB(Casual)
RM0.10 per 10KB(Pro)
(updated 8/9/03)

The bad news is that I am a Maxis postpaid account user. Looking at the prohibitive charges and monthly fees, perhaps it would be better if I shift to Digi for GPRS services.

Getting Connected

Looking at the charges in the above table, you can see how expensive it would be for me to activate GPRS services for all three services, just to write this article. So I took the least expensive way. I bought a Digi Prepaid SIM card for RM68, activated the GPRS service by calling 016-221 1800 and start trying to get my PDA connected to the Internet via GPRS.

Surprisingly it was quite tough. Despite following the instructions at theDigi website, I just can’t get it connected. I tried following the instructions at the Palm website forGPRS configurationon the PalmOS PDA, both theconventionalandunconventionalmethod, still no success. Similar results await me after I tried the configuration settings fromMyPDACafe’s forum,KVPUG’s forumand the Palm-X’s mailling list. Still no success.

I was getting desperate, being somewhat IT literate, I am not used to such failures. I contacted Digi via e-mail, they do reply a few days later but it is of no help. So I contacted Nazley. Initially we failed to get it connected, but a few days later we managed to do so. Turned out that there were a few vital details that needs rectification.

So the following instruction for connecting to Digi GPRS are based on our own personal experience. The rest are based on postings by Palm-X members and the respective telcos websites. I promise to replace those instructions with “the real thing” once I could “borrow”  Maxis and Celcom SIM cards from our members, plus to get someone to loan me a GPRS capable phone.(Update 2/5/03 – Tested the Maxis GPRS configuration using Abedib’s Maxis SIM card, Nazley’s R520m and Handera 330. The settings work without using PPPSet) (update 23-6-03 – Celcom’s setting works, tested by Jiwa & Hafeez)

Characteristics Digi Maxis Celcom
1. Prepaid/Postpaid Prepaid and Postpaid Postpaid Only Postpaid only
2. Activation Call 016-221 1800 for activation. Or use the followinglink.You can also make a request at a DiGi Centre. Call 123 from your Maxis Mobile or 03-7492 2123 from any other phone or visit the nearest Maxis Centre. Sign up with Celcom GPRS by calling 019-3000900.
3. Phone configuration
(It is necessary that the configuration for your phone tally with the configuration for the PDA. For example if the APN for your PDA is “”, then the APN for your phone should also be the same!)
Visit thislink. Visit thislink. Visit thislink.
4a. Palm Connection Configuration:

  • Tap the pull-down menu on the top right-hand corner and select System (Pic).
  • Tap on the Prefs icon (Pic).
  • Tap on the drop-down menu on the top right hand corner and select ‘Connection’ (Pic).
  • Click on the ‘New’ button. Fill up the required field including naming your connection, (ie DiGi GPRS-IR) and select “Connect to: Modem” and “Via: Infrared” (For those connecting via Bluetooth, choose “Bluetooth” instead of “Infrared”).
Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image
4b. Tap ‘Details’ and set speed to 115,200 bps and Flow Ctl to “On”. Set the initialisation string as illustrated by the images on the right. Once done, tap ‘OK’.

  • Tap ‘OK’ again to save
Telco Initialisation string
Digi at+cgdcont=1,”ip”,”diginet”;
Maxis at+cgdcont=1,”ip”,”net”;
Celcom at+cgdcont=1,”ip”,””;
Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image
5a. Palm dial-up connection configuration

  • Select ‘Network’ from the drop-down menu on the top right-hand corner (Pic)
  • Tap the menu button in the lower left corner of the graffiti area and tap ‘New’.
  • Rename the service to something other than the default ‘Untitled’ ie DiGi GPRS.
  • Enter the User Name, Password and Phone Number.
    Digi Maxis Celcom
    Username digi maxis Supposed to leave it blank but that wont work. Intead type “g”
    Password digi wap [leave blank]
    Upon logging in, it’ll ask for password. Just click OK.
    Phone No. *99***1# *99***1# *99***1#
  • Select the connection that you have just created for your GPRS service at no. 4 ie “DiGi GPRS-IR”.
Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image
5b.Tap ‘Details’ and enter further settings required by your telco.

  • Connection type:PPP
  • Query DNS: unticked
  • DNS: refer to the table below
    DNS1 DNS2
  • IP Address:Automatic
  • Leave “Script” as it is.
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  • When done, click the OK button and you can try it out already. Do ensure that the IRDA port of both PDA and your cellphone are facing each other and the infrared on your phone is activated.
  • Of course if you’re using Bluetooth to access GPRS connection, just ensure that your BT-enabled cellphone and PDA could detect each others presence and try it out.
Click to see a larger image We have successfully connected to Maxis GPRS without using PPPSet. But if you want to know more about PPPSet, please refer to the box below. Click to see a larger image
Success! Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image Click to see a larger image


I managed to connect to the Internet using GPRS by using Digi Prepaid Plus and Maxis Postpaid. The connection was quite fast at 44 kbps. I did check my mail using it and it was fast in comparison with GSM data transfer. I didn’t try surfing the web though since it will be quite expensive, just a single visit to a humongus website can reduce my SIM card balance to RM10 and I’ll be disconnected! (4MB of data = RM40 for DiGi Prepaid Plus)

Therefore the high cost of connecting via GPRS may deter others from trying it out. The initial investment required is also quite high since a GPRS phone doesn’t come cheap. But for the mobile warriors out there who needs relatively fast Internet access from almost anywhere, GPRS is an option that they should look at closely.

Maxis GPRS and PPPSet

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 16:52:25 +0800
From: ”

I have this problem before… to connect my Sony CLie T665C to GPRS thru Ericsson T39/R520m. I’ve followed all the instructions and necessary scripts (you can get it from the previous review or from MaxisNet website) but when i try to connect, the following message appears:

“Connection time out. Please try again later. If this message repeatedly appears, please disconnect PPP, and then reconnect.”

To overcome the problem, install PPPSet (get it from into your Clie. PPPset is a utility that allows you to disable Van Jacobson Header Compression, so that you can use your Palm to connect Palm->Ericsson->GPRS on mobile sites that do not support it. PalmOS tries to establish a connection with VJ Compression by default and if this process fails, it tries to connect without compression. Unfortunately because of a buggy IPCP implementation, this request is rejected and the message above appears.

To use it, follow these steps:

  1. Set appropriate network service (system application Prefs, tab network).
  2. Start PPPSet and tap `Cancel’ when window service connection progress appears.
  3. In the upper box set appropriate interface (use PPP0 in most cases).
  4. Uncheck the VJ compression checkbox. From now until the Palm is powered down, the PPP will not use VJ compression.
  5. Tap button `IfaceUp’ to establish connection.
  6. Then only you open other programs, Eudara ka… Palmscape ka … Pocketlick ka … Palmasutra ka … opppsss.

For more info, tab `Help’ button in the PPPSet program.

Happy surfing.


Credits: Mohd Nazley Fadley, Palm-X members, myPDACafe & KVPUG.

My apologies for the huge screenshots and the weird formatting of the article.

Author: Dr Azmi Mohd Tamil

I am a lecturer in Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia since 1996, teaching in Biostatistics and Epidemiology. My main interests are gadgets and cycling. You can connect with me at Facebook.