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.
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
|GPRS and WAP Monthly Fee||None||None||RM5.00
|GPRS Usage||RM0.10 per 10 KB||RM0.05 per 10KB||RM0.15 per 10KB
|RM0.20 per 10KB(Casual)
RM0.10 per 10KB(Pro)
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.
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)
|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 “celcom.net.my”, then the APN for your phone should also be the same!)
|Visit thislink.||Visit thislink.||Visit thislink.|
|4a. Palm Connection Configuration:
|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’.
|5a. Palm dial-up connection configuration
|5b.Tap ‘Details’ and enter further settings required by your telco.
||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.|
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.
Credits: Mohd Nazley Fadley, Palm-X members, myPDACafe & KVPUG.
My apologies for the huge screenshots and the weird formatting of the article.