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Wireless Application Protocol - WAP

Future Outlook For WAP

By 2004, there could be more than 700m mobile commerce users.

The point brought about by many analysts against WAP is that with the emergence of next generations networks (including GPRS), as the data capabilities of these networks evolve, it will make possible the delivery of full-motion video images and high-fidelity sound over mobile networks. Thus the technical significance of WAP (designed keeping in mind the low bandwidths available in the present mobile networks).  On the other hand many believe that with the introduction of packet-switched data networks will kick-start the take-up of WAP services. Japan and South Korea are forging ahead, having already introduced packet data on their networks. Europe and other regions that adhere to the GSM standard are close on their heels, with many GPRS contracts now confirmed.

What should be understood is that the limitations in mobile Internet access is not just the low bandwidths available. The very nature of mobile devices presents limitations like display etc. As I have already mentioned in the introduction, power consumption is a very critical issue and even if high speeds are available power considerations may limit the data speeds. Services like GPRS are bearer services. Internet access via WAP should infact become much more easier with WAP.

Currently, WAP access needs a specific connection via an Internet service provider (ISP) in much the same way as a PC accesses. But the system will come into its own with the introduction of another enabling technology, general packet radio services (GPRS), a method of sending Internet information to mobile telephones at high speed. At present, services such as BT Cellnet's Genie deliver information at a speed of 9,600 bits of information a second. With GPRS the speed will rise to 100,000.

I was talking about killer applications a little while ago. Mobile commerce is one such application that can open up lots of opportunities for WAP. By 2004, there could be more than 700m mobile commerce users. M-commerce is emerging more rapidly in Europe and in Asia, where mobile services are relatively advanced, than in the US where mobile telephony has only just begun to take off. With the advent of next generation services, however, it is likely that the US will have closed the gap within the next few years.


Enabling convergence
WAP is one of the family of technologies that have the potential of bringing about the convergence of mobile communications and the Internet. Technologies like bluetooth will connect the mobile to the personal computers. GPRS has the potential to deliver Internet information to mobile phones many times faster than conventional GSM technology. By allowing mobile to be in always connected state GPRS (or other services like CDPD) will bring Internet more closer to mobile. All this should make adoption of WAP much more attractive and desirable. The reason I am mentioning all this is that all these developments are helping create new user requirements and demand patterns, which are all beneficial for WAP. The appetite for mobile data services like WAP is a fact. The evidence from Japan, in any case, is that customers are more than ready for m-commerce. NTT DoCoMo's recently launched i-Mode, a data communications service rather like WAP, has already signed up several million customers and is still growing rapidly.  

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