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The proliferation and development of cellular voice systems over the past several years has exposed the capabilities and the effectiveness of wireless communications and, thus, has paved the way for wide-area wireless data applications as well. The demand for such applications is currently experiencing a significant increase and, therefore, there is a strong call for advanced and efficient mobile data technologies. This article deals with these mobile data technologies and aims to exhibit their potential. It provides a thorough survey of the most important mobile packet data services and technologies, including MOBITEX, CDPD, ARDIS, and the emerging GPRS. For each technology, the article outlines its main technical characteristics, discusses its architectural aspects, and explains the medium access protocol, the services provided, and the mobile routing scheme.