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WAP enabled Motorala HandsetThat handy mobile phone of yours is on its way to becoming a multipurpose super gizmo. You will not only be able to communicate with people around the worsld with it but surf the entire net too - anytime, anywhere! Incredible, but true. That's what WAP [Wireless Application Protocol] is all about.

WAP, the most happening technology in the field of communication, is targeting people on the move. If the Internet goes mobile, the range of applications that WAP can provide is almost unbelievable. Starting from the usual e-mail sending and receiving services, the WAP holder has the net (in text form) at his/her fingertips.
Right now, screen being the limitation, WAP enables the user to have the net in text form only. Some WAP phones viz., NOKIA 7110,ALACTEL One touch, SIEMENS S25, ERRICSON T36, SONY and palmtops like SIEMENS IC35 and ERRICSON MC218 provide an access to the net. As screen is the limiting factor for these tiny devices, a lot more R&D has to be done in this area.

The Indian saga of WAP enabled Internet Service Providing started a year ago. That is when both the Internet and mobile phone services started to boom on the Indian corporate scene. By then both of them must have identified the other's potential. Consequently, the two services thought of joining hands.

When mobile operators like TATA Cellular (in Andhra Pradesh) went public to announce WAP enabled phones, other operators like Orange, AirTel, and Aircell also decided to provide such devices. Cell phone users in cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad who are enabled with the WAP services, are provided with stock updates, air/rail timings and breaking news. These service providers might be just a few steps ahead of many other mobile service providers who will soon be following in their footsteps with the required set-up in the months to come.

Is it possible to go online if one has a WAP compatible phone in hand? At present, no. The WAP phone user can only login to a site that is also a WAP browser. Other browsers can be downloaded to any PC but not a WAP browser. Also, mobile phone vendors have not assured any strategy that can make the existing phone compatible with a WAP service. Even if all the constraints are overcome, price will limit the user base. Quoted from Rs 9,000 upwards, WAP phones are as expensive as Rs 30,000. Though India is lagging behind Japan, USA and other countries at present, it is a land of opportunities that can reap enormous benefits from the WAP revolution in the coming years.

- Charan C S

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