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One of the main technology design decisions ICT initiatives face is whether to transmit data via Short Message Service (SMS) or General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). SMS is a tool built into any modern cellphone which allows its users to send short messages, typically between 70 and 160 characters, over the voice network. GPRS is a mobile data service which allows certain phones to send and receive information using the internet protocol (IP), the same messaging technology which powers the World Wide Web. While an SMS-based system has no specific phone requirements, a system that relies on GPRS data transmission requires Java-enabled handsets that are capable of supporting mobile applications.
|Data Collection & Transmission Cost|
Because SMS capability is a standard built-in feature of all GSM phones, a project that relies on data transmission via SMS does not require implementers to invest in project-dedicated handsets for end users. In addition to reducing upfront costs, using existing phones also bypasses significant coordination that is required to ensure appropriate use of project-specific phones. This is especially true for projects involving large facilities or user groups, where lines delineating phone ownership may be fluid. Workers sharing project-specific phones with family members may reduce the availability of phones at project sites and/or increase the likelihood that sensitive data will leak out to non-affiliated community members.