Wireless application protocol (WAP)

People on the move need services, information and entertainment that can keep up with them. With access to mobile services, decisions and interactions happen here and now. The value of mobile services to end-users is boosted by three separate elements: personalization, time-sensitivity and location awareness. Combining these three effectively adds even more value.

Wireless application protocol (WAP) is a protocol that has successfully established a de facto standard for the way in which wireless technology is used for Internet access. WAP technology has been optimized for information delivery to mobile phones.

What is Wireless application protocol (WAP)?
Wireless application protocol (WAP) is an application environment and set of communication protocols for wireless devices designed to enable manufacturer, vendor, and technology-independent access to the Internet and advanced telephony services.

WAP bridges the gap between the mobile world and the Internet as well as corporate intranets and offers the ability to deliver an unlimited range of mobile value-added services to subscribers—independent of their network and terminal. Mobile subscribers can access the same wealth of information from a pocket-sized device as they can from the desktop.
WAP is a global standard and is not controlled by any single company. Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, and Unwired Planet founded the WAP Forum in 1997 with the initial purpose of defining an industry-wide specification for developing applications over wireless communications networks. The WAP specifications define a set of protocols in application, session, transaction, security, and transport layers, which enable operators, manufacturers, and applications providers to meet the challenges in advanced wireless service differentiation and fast/flexible service creation. There are now over one hundred members representing terminal and infrastructure manufacturers, operators, carriers, service providers, software houses, content providers, and companies developing services and applications for mobile devices.

WAP also defines a wireless application environment (WAE) aimed at enabling operators, manufacturers, and content developers to develop advanced differentiating services and applications.

What are the benefits of WAP?
The benefits can be categorized separately for the operators, content providers and the end users.

Operators
For wireless network operators, WAP promises to decrease churn, cut costs, and increase the subscriber base both by improving existing services, such as interfaces to voice-mail and prepaid systems, and facilitating an unlimited range of new value-added services and applications, such as account management and billing inquiries. New applications can be introduced quickly and easily without the need for additional infrastructure or modifications to the phone. This will allow operators to differentiate themselves from their competitors with new, customized information services. WAP is an interoperable framework, enabling the provision of end-to-end turnkey solutions that will create a lasting competitive advantage, build consumer loyalty, and increase revenues.

Content Providers
Mobile consumers are becoming hungrier to receive increased functionality and value-added services from their mobile devices, and WAP opens the door to this huge market. This presents developers with significant revenue opportunities. As WAP is a global and interoperable open standard, content providers have immediate access to the customers who seek such applications to enhance the service offerings given to their own existing and potential subscriber base.

End Users
End users of WAP will benefit from easy, secure access to relevant Internet information and services such as unified messaging, banking, and entertainment through their mobile devices. Intranet information such as corporate databases can also be accessed via WAP technology. Because a wide range of handset manufacturers already supports the WAP initiative, users will have significant freedom of choice when selecting mobile terminals and the applications they support. Users will be able to receive and request information in a controlled, fast, and low-cost environment, a fact that renders WAP services more attractive to consumers who demand more value and functionality from their mobile terminals.

Why is WAP being chosen?
In the past, wireless Internet access had been limited by the capabilities of handheld devices and wireless networks.
WAP utilizes Internet standards that have been optimized for the unique constraints of the wireless environment i.e. low bandwidth, high latency, and less connection stability.
WAP utilizes binary transmission for greater compression of data and is optimized for long latency and low bandwidth. WAP sessions cope with intermittent coverage and can operate over a wide variety of wireless transports.

The advantages that WAP can offer over these other methods are the following:
• open standard, vendor independent
• network-standard independent
• transport mechanism–optimised for wireless data bearers
• application downloaded from the server, enabling fast service creation and introduction, as opposed to embedded software

What is the Future of WAP?
The tremendous surge of interest and development in the area of wireless data in recent times has caused worldwide operators, infrastructure and terminal manufacturers, and content developers to collaborate on an unprecedented scale, in an area notorious for the diversity of standards and protocols. The collaborative efforts of the WAP Forum have devised and continue to develop a set of protocols that provide a common environment for the development of advanced telephony services and Internet access for the wireless market. Industry players from content developers to operators can explore the vast opportunity that WAP presents. As a fixed-line technology, the Internet has proved highly successful in reaching the homes of millions worldwide. However, mobile users until now have been forced to accept relatively basic levels of functionality, over and above voice communications and are beginning to demand the industry to move from a fixed to a mobile environment, carrying the functionality of a fixed environment with it.
With the advent of GPRS, which aims at increasing the data rate to 115 kbps, as well as other emerging high-bandwidth bearers, the access speeds equivalent or higher to that of a fixed-line scenario have become a reality.

 

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