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  • Topic: Wireless Application Protocol, GSM, Mobile phone
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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What is WAP?

WAP stands for Wireless Application Protocol. The idea has been developed by some of the wireless telecommunications giants such as Nokia and Ericsson.

The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) uses the Internet as a gateway for the transmission of the protocol. WAP has brought the Internet and the sub-services that it provides right into our lives as we are on the move. WAP brings us information right to the screen of our mobile phone.

WAP offers the possibility to call specific WAP pages directly from the Internet; these WAP pages can be seen in a display, but their presentation is reduced and without illustrations and charts. The possibilities of WAP are nearly endless: Entertainment - sending messages - calling sport results, stock exchange quotations, arrivals and departures of airplanes and trains - (nearly) everything is possible. Especially in business WAP seems to be the "star performer" as to corporate communication solutions.

Trends in WAP

Customers willing to make use of these new possibilities need a WAP phone. This is a GSM mobile phone with incorporated modem and WAP browser. The data is transmitted with the usual transmission rate of 9.6 kBit/s. As to the consumers' interest in WAP there are still controversies. Mobile phones recorded in the UK very high sales rates during the 2nd quarter of 2000, however the sales rates of WAP phones were not that good. At the end of May 2000 there were worldwide more than 150,000 WAP pages and the offer of WAP pages continues to increase with explosive growth rates. (Forrester Research, 2000)

International analysts predict that the demand for appropriate equipment will increase rapidly in the coming few months. After the online boom in 1990's WAP will be the next growth industry of the twenty-first century. The conditions seem to be ideal: The consumers' interest in online services and e-commerce does not stop to show an upward trend. For the time being there are worldwide several millions of persons using mobile phones, their number is still growing. WAP is based on GSM technology, the worldwide most used mobile phone system that has turned out to be the standard on all continents. (only in the USA there are more systems competing with GSM).

Forrester Research believes in their study that in 2002 worldwide more than 100 million persons will use WAP phones. A forecast of the producer Ericsson confirms this trend, too: in 2001 nearly 50% the persons using mobile phones are expected to take advantage of WAP.

For a study conducted by NOP Research Group among Internet users in Great Britain, France and Germany, 9%, 22% and 11% respectively declared to have the intention to buy a WAP phone during the next 12 months. A direct connection between the intention to use both WAP services and Internet is already existing: in the 3 countries, only 8% in total of the interviewed persons declaring themselves to be an "Internet beginner" were interested in buying a WAP phone while 28% of the "Internet experts" confirmed their intention to buy a WAP phone.

Kaufcom (Wapitout) in Switzerland until the end of May 200.000 WAP phones were sold. At that time in Switzerland more than 40.000 persons made a daily use of WAP - almost one out of five persons in possession of a WAP phone went online!

The pioneers regarding Internet surfing are the Japanese. When Europe started the first WAP tests, Japan saw a real boom of mobile data services. This boom started with "i-mode", a service offered by the worldwide largest mobile telephony provider NTT DoCoMoInc, that used a protocol similar to the WAP technology. Despite additional costs of approx. 35 ATS per month this service recorded 18 months after its start more than 3 million users.

Source: Forrester Research, NOP Research Group, GfK Handelspanel (Mai 2000), I and C WORLD, Wapitout/Kaufcom, COMPUTER, Reuters...
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