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Mobile Phone Industry to Scrap WAP 139

joestump98 writes: "According to this story at Yahoo the industry has started an initiative to introduce "The Mobile Services Initiative (M-Series)" which aims to be an open software and hardware standard. The article goes so far to call WAP a "fiasco." The new M-Series is set to offer faster GPRS networks to offer consistent, high-quality mobile Internet."
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Mobile Phone Industry to Scrap WAP

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  • Is just a hack. SMS shouldn't be used as a general purpose transfer protocol, because it isn't. Unfortunately with the lack of anything better, people apparently will use SMS to fill in the gaps.
  • That would be true for TCP, but not for UDP. TCP promises reliability, whereas UDP applications have to make their own. If wireless protocols had been based on UDP, what would have been the problem? A protocol built on top of UDP could interpret lost packets however it chose to.

  • EMS? Why on earth would they want a memory standard used with DOS in the ages of the 286?
  • Eww, that's one ugly phone, most Nokias around here are much nicer. I prefer the new from Ericsson with GPRS, Bluetooth and all the other stuffs you might start using next year. Or is this model only available in Sweden yet?
  • This is a good first step, but the future hinges on whether GPRS will deliver ISDN-like performance in general purpose Web access, or whether, due to crufty handsets or crufty network engineering, it will be, essentially, WAP+. GPRS has the potential to be pretty good always-on Internet at reasonable prices. It is is built out that way, it will be very successful.
  • Right, and it'll be using WAP over GPRS. Maybe not WML though - WAP doesn't rule out other formats. DoCoMo is exporting the i-mode brand, or maybe only their experience in marketing and ensuring usability, rather than any technology.
  • WAP can be used on top of IP. WAP phones on the GSM system normally make a circuit-switched GSM data connection and run PPP and UDP/IP on top of that. The WAP-specific protocols then sit on top of UDP. GPRS, the "2.5G" high-speed packet system for GSM supports IP directly, so WAP-GPRS phones also use UDP/IP. UMTS, which is the 3G version of GSM, will assign an IPv6 to each handset and use IPv6 for everything, including voice calls.
  • > This was always a nonsense claim, since people
    > were running IP over 2400 baud modems 10+ years
    > ago, which is about as high latency, low
    > bandwidth as you can get.

    ...and extremely unpleasant. I had the misfortune to be forced to dial in from home some time in 95 using an old 2400 modem and it was virtually unusable.

    WAP reserves its specialist low-latency stuff for transferring data down the wireless "last mile" - i.e. between the WAP gateway and the handsets themselves. I think it's entirely justifiable to have specific stuff there.

    Elsewhere it uses all the existing TCP/IP, HTTP stuff we know and love.
  • How can you possibly charge the person receiving the calls? [...] Which countries do this? I think Scandinavia does, but didn't think it was widespread.

    Nope, caller pays also in Scandinavia. What's more, some subscription schemes (like mine, a phone card actually) even give you a bonus if someone calls you! Yes, people have already started to abuse this by going into someones office, calling your own phone and not hang up.

    Lars
    __

  • Duh!

    since when did bearer (air-interface) protocols have anything to do with WAP? The whole point of WAP is that it is bearer independant. FFS kids. WAP sucks dogs cocks at the moment, but it *is* changing. It's getting better. Yes, it was a fuckup of a marketing exercise but it's the only thing we (the cellular industry) agree on.

    Now cue the 'tard boys saying "oooh1! imode uses HTML so it's better!"

    Please, just once Mr Slashdotters, learn a little about the issues before you rant.

    (Yes, I am drunk BTW. But hey, it's 3:50am here and I've had a good night out ;)

  • One of the reasons WAP was a disaster, IMHO, was because they invented a completely new set of protocols to do things that IP/UDP/TCP could already do.

    Err, so did you read any WAP docs before saying that? WAP uses UDP over PPP in CSD environments or GPRS over SS7 to the GGSN in GPRS environments.

    This was always a nonsense claim, since people were running IP over 2400 baud modems 10+ years ago, which is about as high latency, low bandwidth as you can get.

    Wrong again. CSD (Circuit Switched Data) is the most popular bearer protocol in place at the moment, and the 2nd most popular is SMS. 2400baud is staggeringly fast compared to 160 bytes every 6 seconds with SMS.

    The real reason was control: anything interoperable with the regular Internet would have been impossible to charge a premium for.

    Err, except for the airtime, eh? Which is exactly what gets charged for ATM. Sheesh!


  • This results in scalability problems. It's inherent to WAP. WAP could never scale, and as a result, WAP sucks.

    Pop! (that was your bubble bursting, btw) As it happens, it scales easily by clustering your WAP gateways. Lots of people do it. It scales fine. You are wrong.
  • You can run Lynx on a 386SX with an 80x25 display. A mobile phone has an even worse display, but processing power shouldn't be a problem.

    Okay, not every site is viewable in Lynx, but giving access to (say) 50% of the web is a big improvement over the 0.0001% or whatever that's available in WML. And converting existing content to lean HTML will probably be easier than converting it to WML.

    And 9.6kb/s is easily fast enough for web browsing, if it is with gzip compression (which in practice seems to double or triple downloading speed) and without pictures. Just how many bytes are needed to give a screenful of text on a mobile? All that's required is for the phone company to set up a proxy server that can talk 'Accept-encoding: gzip' with the phones (I think) - and more and more web servers have this as standard anyway.
  • No, all I meant was use plain HTML, but use lossless compression while sending it over the network. Having a separate format like WAP is a waste of time if all the content in it is just automatically translated from HTML to start with. Might as well just send the HTML.

    Byte-compiling is a good idea, but it should be more general. I've often wished for a 'compiler' which knows about the DTD you're using and can encode tags in (probably) one byte plus attributes and content.

    In fact, a compression program which knows about grammars - whether XML/SGML DTDs or Lex/Yacc rules - would be most handy. You could probably get pretty good compression on C source code if you parsed it into a syntax tree and compressed that. If only two alternatives, FOO and BAR, are possible at a given point in the syntax tree, then whichever is used can be encoded in just one bit (although you might prefer to byte-align the output). Identifier names could be stored as numbers referencing the built-up syntax table. Then run the output through gzip to deal with literal text strings and to get some extra compression. This would almost certainly give better results than just using a compressor which makes no assumptions about file format.
  • He's right, you know. The problem is that a single provider, say Vodaphone, for instance, must route all their WAP traffic through a single WAP gateway. This results in scalability problems. It's inherent to WAP. WAP could never scale, and as a result, WAP sucks.

    As far as all the protocols are concerned, they're really not that hard to pick up. And the imode stuff is doing it again, although this time they're sticking a little closer to existing protocols. The protocols aren't that bad, though. It's really the problems inherent with the stupid gateway that Nokia had offered up when WAP was invented.

    Why did they do it? Well, Nokia wanted to have control over the process. Control==capability to bill more for it separately==more money. It was a stupid decision. But, alas, stupid decisions are often made by industry leaders trying to extend their dominance to another market.
  • Our mobile phones have the same area code as our local numbers. We don't have separate area codes for mobile phones. Thus, billing (and educating the consumer that they're calling a mobile phone and not a land line) becomes exceedingly difficult.

    Woah. Your statement about the Americans & Europeans is quite a broad statement. I think you misunderstand the politics behind the US mobile market. Our fucked up system is the result of a system that came *after* GSM. Yes, our digital systems were developed after GSM. Motorola lobbied Congress hard for the US to adopt their proprietary system so that they would have a lock on handset sales (Nokia still won out in the end). Since Motorola is a *big* defense contractor, and since the US was trying to protect the strategically important defense contractors from going belly up in a market of enormous cuts in defense spending, the government adopted Motorola's specs. It's pure politics, which are as fucked up in the US as they are anywhere.

    As for "just about every standard", I hope you're talking about phones. I can recite dozens of superious US proprietary standards in areas other than phones. With phones, however, I'll concede your point.

    BTW, WAP was designed by Nokia. In Finland.
  • by The Mayor ( 6048 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @11:00PM (#152780)
    It's a result of free local calls for land-line connections. In the US, local calls are entirely free. As a result, the phone companies had no infrastructure to bill for local calls to mobile phones. As a result, in order for the mobile phone operators to make money, they had to bill the receiver rather than the caller.

    This is the single biggest reason why mobile phone usage in the US is far lower than in Europe, as a percentage of the total market. In fact, mobile phone usage in the US is even lower than many developing nations. Of course, it's also the single biggest reason why Internet usage in the US is far higher than every other nation. Free local calls results in no incremental costs for Internet usage, which in turn leads to people surfing for pr0n for hours on end.

    It may seem stupid when it comes to mobile phones, but it also has its strong points in other areas.
  • WAP is a set of protocols and markup language (WML) that runs over GSM, TDMA, CDMA, GPRS and many other transports.

    GPRS will give something like 10 to 40 Kbps (current published measurements on a UK deployment peg it at about 10 Kbps currently). The point of GPRS is not that it's faster than traditional GSM/TDMA/CDMA circuit switched WAP, though it should be a bit better; its key benefit is that your phone or PDA or laptop is always connected.

    This means that applications on the phone can get updates from content sites as and when you need them, using IP, without having to use SMS. For example, an airline reservation + itinerary set up through your PC could be beamed to your mobile phone, and updated as flights are cancelled, allowing you to re-book.

    GPRS will also mean that you can check your stocks, or whatever page you frequently want to see, with only a few seconds delay - no need to 'dial' the WAP site.

    I think GPRS will really take off if phones end up looking more like Palm-type PDAs - this is enough screen area to make web browsing useful (based on using AvantGo on the Palm, which is very usable). A wireless always-on connection to a PDA/smartphone would be great - ideally using a full HTML browser but with cut-down web pages.
  • Good point about the need for email - one of the biggest gaps in WAP is that you can't send a WAP page to someone via SMS so that the links work from their SMS view on the phone.
  • by Cato ( 8296 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @04:17AM (#152783)
    Wireless is not just about low bandwidth - it's about highly variable bandwidth, high error rates, and latency sometimes measured in seconds.

    Here are some of the things that TCP in particular has trouble with:

    * Poor radio conditions lead to increased error correction (GPRS changes coding schemes on the fly) and re-transmissions (typically, 50% of all ethernet-sized packets are retransmitted because the basic medium is quite liable to corruption). Typical frame error rates are 1 to 2%, and errors tend to happen in bursts.

    * Competition from voice calls or other data traffic in a cell, and lack of dedicated per-cell bandwidth (timeslots) for data traffic, lead to huge variations in bandwidth available.

    The impact on TCP is that it frequently goes into slow start (because a whole series of packets is dropped by burst errors - TCP-Reno, the commonest implementation these days, is very sensitive to this). This means you go back to sending only one packet at a time (window size of one), then double the window size each ACK round-trip-time, until you get to half of your previous window size, when you start increasing linearly.

    There is a lot of work going on to optimise TCP for wireless, following on from earlier work that optimised it for long fat pipes (e.g. SACK and window scaling). See http://www.aciri.org/floyd/tcp_small.html for a good survey. The key point is that wireless TCP performance has very little to do with TCP's behaviour on a link that has a constant 2400 bps bandwidth, a constant latency, and probably lower frame error rates.

    It would have been better if the WAP people had just improved TCP, or created TCP gateways to the outside world, but plain unmodified TCP is not very usable in wireless. Apart from TCP, most of the WAP protocols could have been avoided, and certain WML was a mistake, but reduction of header overheads (IP, TCP and HTTP) and page sizes is important, so this would have had to be done on top of IP somehow. NTT DoCoMo's i-mode does prove that this is possible, though the technical details are not clear beyond their use of cHTML.

    The real issue with WAP is terrible usability and poor implementations of browsers, WAP gateways, WAP servers and WML content - e.g. the Back button is dependent on the site coding it into WML, so sometimes you just can't go back, and frequently you get 'No gateway response' on trying a new site.

    Also, it's very hard to report problems to WAP sites since they are not smart enough to include an SMS number where you could send them a report (and the problem could be anywhere between browser and site, in any case).

  • What you're talking about is transcoding, which works fine - and is even available in open source variants [sourceforge.net].

    No the encoding is not simple gzip: WML (the presentation layer of WAP) is bytecode compiled, so that the common tags are not sent as plain text.

  • GPRS is the network layer: it's nothing to do with WAP.

    GPRS bears the same relation to WAP as modem, fibre or Ethernet does to TCP/IP. It's just another way to get the same stuff.

    Already in the UK we have WAP delivered over SMS, ISDN, HSCSD and now (in beta) GPRS. Don't let the acronyms fool you. The're different things.
  • WAP was built to work around phones with low bandwidth, slow CPUs and low memory. The transfer protocol was compact, the markup language got compressed, etc. In the time it was taking for WAP to be accepted, all of these limitations (except bandwidth) have gone away.

    Yes and no: running a big fat processor in a phone kills battery life, and no-one wants to go back to charging their phone every few hours. Palms and Wince machines achieve good battery life, but they don't have to generate RF.

    Fragmentation. Practically speaking, if you have one vendor's browser in your phone, your mobile provider must have that vendor's WAP gateway running in their network. On top of that, different browsers rendered things differently, making it a real pain to develop WAP content. Fragmentation is normal with an emerging market, but it never seemed to settle out with WAP.

    Aw come on: the biggest problem is the little angle brackets the phone.com browser users and the lack of tables in the early nokias. Ever try making a Web site look exactly the same on all browsers from version 3 upwards?

    Phones don't really support packet data yet. Who wants to surf the net at $.10/min?

    You probably don't want a Motorola Timeport 260 then.

    Hard to use/small display. I think positioning WAP as the "wireless Internet" was foolish. I surf the net with at least a 14" monitor, 1024x768 resolution and a mouse. Anything less sucks.

    For web browsing, yeah. That's why it's a different standard with a different mark up language.

    No need for a special protocol like WAP, instead Webmasters will key off of USER_AGENT and render differently for phones. Its that simple.

    Funnily enough that's exactly how I render for WAP devices: the gateway passes the UA string through for you. Remember, on this side of the gateway, everything is TCP/IP and HTTP. The WAP-specfic bits are between the wireless ISP and the phone. Who gives a shit what language they speak?

  • And anyway, the "failure" of WAP was clearly not due to poor download speeds

    Then what was is it down to?

    I have WAP on my phone and must have used it a dozen times only in the last 6 months. It's not the content that's the problem (ok, there isn't much, but what's there is readable) it's the speed. It's so pig slow to get the screen up that you want, and then to navigate, that after a while (and only a couple of articles) this little voice in the back of your head starts nagging about how much this info excursion is costing, for so little return. If it were faster, I'd use it a lot more.

    Macka
  • But Jo Public isn't aware of the component parts of the system that result in the delivery of a WAP experience. 99% of them probably haven't even heard of GSM. So from their perspective, it's WAP that's slow. And don't forget that we're talking about why WAP is a failed technology in the eyes of the consumer.
  • And 9.6kb/s is easily fast enough for web browsing, if it is with gzip compression (which in practice seems to double or triple downloading speed) and without pictures.

    A constant 9.6kb/s would be great for web browsing... What you get in reality (I've got a Nokia 9110, so I frequently use TCP and HTTP over GSM) is somewhere around 200-300 bytes per second and long stand-stills, due to packet loss on the wireless link and TCP's reaction (retransmission kills speed because the window size rarely goes up to anything usable and round trips aren't below 1s with the slow link).

    Loading a 10k web page easily takes a minute or more, and that becomes pretty annoying. I prefer to telnet to my shell account and lynx stuff there... Small packets seem to work kinda well.


    --

  • What we need is an OPEN standard.

    The problem is that the users don't give a shit it's proprietary. They only want it to be available now, being able to buy it, and use as many services as possible.

    Question: Do you have a PalmOS device? Or are you waiting for the Embedded Linux PDAs? Do you think everyone will want to pass on a Palm and instead wait for Zaurus to become available? Same thing for other technologies: First to market and all that.

  • There's a great English mailing list here in Japan for that - The Keitai-L
    You can browse the archives at:
    http://www.appelsiini.net/keitai-l/
    A lot of discussions about taking iMode elsewhere, but Europe will probably be first.

    Cheers,
    Jim in Tokyo

    MMDC.NET [mmdc.net]
  • um....bluetooth doesn't have anything to do with what we're talking about here. not unless you're using your cell phone to read web pages from your mp3 player in your pocket.

  • iMode is not the only successful mobile internet service in Japan (contrary to what you might have read in the media). There are two competitors to it doing reasonably well, and one of them is WAP.

    Anyway, the "whole new protocol stack" is basically restricted to the mobile network, so from the point of view of content developers it doesn't exist. They use the same web servers as always, just setting up a new MIME type and putting up content in the WAP format. Similar to supporting PNG, Flash, or any other new web content type.

    Security is not an absolute - it's a sliding scale defined in terms of effort required to break it. The level of security provided by WAP is not as high as 128-bit secure browsing using Internet Explorer, but that isn't a roadblock. I'm sure you go to sites (such as this one) without an "https:" in the URL, surf with cookies turned on, enter private information at a site or two. The security in WAP is adequate for the majority of applications.

    iMode is proprietary, controled by a single corporation, and appears to suffer from scalability problems. Different iMode handsets support different parts of the total set of capabilities, making it just as diverse as the WAP world. Most of the material on programming iMode is written in Japanese, limiting the development community to Japan. It is not "what mobile internet should have been", it was just a kludge to get mobile internet up quickly in Japan.

    Andrew Scott
  • by Andrew Scott ( 23187 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @06:22PM (#152794) Homepage
    This is not about scrapping WAP. See the original press release at

    http://www.gsmworld.com/news/press_2001/press_rele ases_24.html [gsmworld.com]

    Firstly, M-Services (not M-Series, as mentioned in the submission) "could include enhanced graphics, music, video, games, ring tones, screen savers and other compelling services" (from the link). Note this is nothing to do with browsing content on the Internet.

    Secondly, another quote from the article: "M-Services will leverage other key standardisation efforts like WAP, EMS, MMS and SyncML to bring a consistent user experience for digital content." says Jan Wäreby, CEO, Ericsson Consumer Division

    To make an (admittedly poor) analogy, whilst WAP is like Web browsing, M-Services will be like Flash animation.

    And anyway, the "failure" of WAP was clearly not due to poor download speeds, inability to use phones for browsing, or problems with using new protocols in mobile phone networks, as had already been claimed in this Slashdot thread. All of these factors are present in Japan, and despite this there is the success of NTT DoCoMo's iMode service, J-Phone's J-sky, or the TU-KA EZweb with in total 37 million users (See the stats at http://www.tca.or.jp/index-e.html [tca.or.jp])

    Andrew Scott

  • iMode is successful, but it has nothing to do with WAP. where WAP uses stupid, isolationalist technology (see above. lots of people have already explained the problems with WAP having a whole new protocol stack rather than just using what's there, needing a gateway which makes it insecure, and lots of other little technical annoyances)...

    anyways, where WAP uses stupid, isolationalist technology, iMode uses CHTML, which is a subset of HTML, and all the happy protocols from the internet we know and love. iMode, in a way, is what mobile internet should have been, maybe only version 0.8 of that, but a step in the right direction.
    WAP is ... hmm... crap.
  • by garver ( 30881 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @06:13PM (#152796)

    I spent a lot of time playing with WAP. My company decided to support WAP mostly just because of all the hype around it, not because it was good technology. WAP sucked for a lot of reasons:

    • WAP was built to work around phones with low bandwidth, slow CPUs and low memory. The transfer protocol was compact, the markup language got compressed, etc. In the time it was taking for WAP to be accepted, all of these limitations (except bandwidth) have gone away.
    • Security sucked. The spec. built-in a "man in the middle". WAP is dependent upon a WAP gateway which bridges the mobile network and the Internet. Because of this gateway, secure connections are not end to end. In addition, WML lets you define variables. Catch is that the variables are global to the phone and the spec. does not call for them to be concealed from other sites, so if another site knew the variable name I used for "password", they could steal my users' passwords.
    • Fragmentation. Practically speaking, if you have one vendor's browser in your phone, your mobile provider must have that vendor's WAP gateway running in their network. On top of that, different browsers rendered things differently, making it a real pain to develop WAP content. Fragmentation is normal with an emerging market, but it never seemed to settle out with WAP.
    • Phones don't really support packet data yet. Who wants to surf the net at $.10/min?
    • Hard to use/small display. I think positioning WAP as the "wireless Internet" was foolish. I surf the net with at least a 14" monitor, 1024x768 resolution and a mouse. Anything less sucks.

    Given all that, I think the Internet will always be on phones in one form or another. Phones browsers will never be Internet Explorer, but phones now have sufficient CPUs and memory. Coming soon are beautiful color displays and bandwidth. With all of this, good ol' HTTP/TCP/IP will work fine as a protocol (Your mobile provider will pick Layer 2 for you). No need for a special protocol like WAP, instead Webmasters will key off of USER_AGENT and render differently for phones. Its that simple.

  • m-business? m-commerce?

    methinks you've been hanging out with the marketing suits too much. get thee to a sleazy dive, posthaste!

  • WAP can be transported over SMS - but i've never seen or heard of anyone actually crazy enough to try this.

    WAP is more commonly the application layer over a PPP connection. For example, enter any ISP's dial-in number into your phone's WAP settings (+ username and password) along with the IP address of a publicly accessible WAP gateway and you're away laughing.


    --
  • Everybody should check these links: Free Protocols Foundation [freeprotocols.org] and LEAP Forum [leapforum.org]. Here you will find information regarding LEAP, and open alternative to WAP. Of particular interest is The WAP Trap [leapforum.org]. I believe the industry should align behind these protocols.
  • While I'm not a big fan of WAP, this article is just plain wrong. I read this from "The Feature", quoting an "Industry Standard" article describing the M-Services guidelines:

    "For instance, the guidelines call for phones to be compliant with WAP 1.2 this year and, looking into next year, the next generation of M-Services phones should be compatible with WAP 2.0."

    Remember what WAP 2.0 is? The markup language used is no longer WML but XHTML. If that's not standard enough for you, I don't know what is!
  • (I'm not the tech -- and especially not the wireless web tech -- at this company; and as usual I'm speaking only for myself, but I have "some experience.")

    We need a bill-presentment mechanism for the wireless web. I can do an e-gold spend on a mobile phone [e-gold.com], but it's a pain in the ass, because there's no way for a merchant to send my phone a short e-mail with a URL that includes the target account number and the requested quantity of e-gold (in whatever units, but ultimately for us everything's grams) to spend (or not). Once my phone gets that mail with the URL, I should be asked whether I want to go from email to the wireless web (yes, otherwise auto-delete the mail) and if I log in correctly I should be previewing a spend on the next screen so all I have to do is click "confirm" if I actually want to pay.

    Unfortunately, the telephone companies (see the vaunted, moneylosing "G3") are much better at wasting gobs of money than they are at taking advantage of something useful if they don't own 100% of it. (And frankly, I would NOT trust any phone company to do a currency right, they're too clueless and insecure IMO.) Right now, I should be able to pay my damn phone bill with my phone (even without e-mail bill-presentment) and http://pcs.e-gold.com [e-gold.com] SHOULD be an easy to find URL on ALL wireless-web enabled phones (IMO, flame me for my constant-greed if you want, but e-gold is one of the only actually-useful things I've found on that tiny, crappy interface).

    Phone companies have resisted all attempts at a clue-implant for what-works-now, and instead they singlemindedly focus on wasting their stockholders' loot at an even faster rate than moronic late-'90s dot.coms did! (See "G3" again.) Whatever these huge companies do, we'll keep chugging along and adapt. I like the wireless web, and I'd like it to be more-useful, but I don't need it. I could rant-on, but I won't. :)
    JMR

  • No, you are wrong. WAP runs over HTTP which runs over TCP. The only thing the WAP-gateway does is convert WML pages that people put on their WWW servers to a compressed binary format that is understood by the phones.

    The gateway pre-processes the WML data for the phones so that the bandwidth and processing capacity of the phones can be as small as possible.

    Regards,
    Xenna
  • Reading the article, it doesn't make any such claim. The relevant paragraph:

    "M-Services would bring consistency to such areas as graphical displays, music, video and games to handsets supporting GPRS, and later on to even faster standards in the GSM family of technologies such as EDGE and 3GSM"

    just says that it will allow better use to be made of faster network technologies when the become available. EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution) is a step further on from GPRS (ie a different coding system in the network) which allows faster data rates. M-Services is dealing the the OS on the terminals making use of that network, not adding anything to the network itself.
    Must admit I've never heard of 3GSM though, unless they're getting confused with 3G (3rd Generation) UMTS services, which is based on a different network technology to GSM anyway..

    It's not a replacement for WAP either. WAP describes a family of protocols, essentially providing wireless optimised equivalents of TCP, IP and HTML. I guess M-Services might reduce the need for WML (the HTML alternative) as the displays on the devices will be more capable, but the protocols lower down the stack will still be useful to overcome the limitations in the network. In any case, the next release of the WAP specification essentially uses a version of cHTML, similar to that used in i-mode and so WML is probably on the way out anyway.
  • I'm probably one of the few people who have actually used WAP over GPRS and unfortunately, right now, it's not much quicker.. :-(

    However, it's not all doom and gloom. Things will improve and once the packet-data connections over GPRS are working up to their full potential (removing the long setup times you currently have with WAP services) then it will get a lot more useable.

    Packet based data mechanisms also allow for push-type services too, without you always having to be connected to the network, but that's another topic entirely!
  • Actually WAP was designed by an American company which is now known as phone.com. They have a few patents on it as well, in the true american tradition.
  • by brucet ( 42348 )
    I hope iToke's [itoke.co.uk] WAP weed delivery service can adapt to the new technology!

    -Bruce
  • The speed of GPRS is around 28kbps modem on current GPRS networks in Finland (theoretically you should get 56kbps) and there is problems with network latency (average 1,300ms). Currently the pricing if fixed (varying from 30mk/month (5$) to 60mk/month (10$)) but operators will announce their final prices before end of this year. I hope that they won't over price this shit.
  • by raynet ( 51803 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @12:28AM (#152808) Homepage

    For everybody who thinks WAP sucks or is dead, then you haven't really seen what can be done on WAP. You've probably seen just the crappy shit that most mobile companies put out as WAP services. Want to see the future of WAP as a media platform?? Check out this WAP service:

    http://wap.movingentertainment.com/hosted/flipmick /demo/ [movingentertainment.com]

    Yep, comics anytime anywhere you want including archives for missed episodes. Let a newspaper and even a fixed Net try that! OH yeah, and you don't get black ink on the fingers when you read it!

  • Some people blame faults in TCP/IP for the creation of WAP. However, IPv6 is already being deploted, and explicitly solves mobility problems. Since IPv4-over-IPv6 is a given, and since IPv6 will likely be the dominant protocol within a few years, I think it would be wise to go with an IPv6-based solution.
    ------
  • The UK GSM Association today blesses M Services - a mobile services spec written by OpenWave and BT Genie which includes WAP 1.2 and 2.0 stuff plus OpenWave extensions for presentation layer and download.

    Why one earth is this thread turning into an anti-WAP ranting session? WAP will be *enhanced* under through M Services, not killed off.
    The M Services initiative is about instituting the standards on handsents that WAP hasn't had before.

  • Why oh why must another so called standard be introduced when no one has gotten the first ones correct to begin with?

    I take newer introductions to broken technology as a marketing gimmick to have people forget the problems that no one ever fixed. RADIUS is the standard no make that DIAMETER, yes DIAMETER is the standard... Give me a break. Why don't they take the time to get it right to begin with then focus on improving from there instead of overhyping the so called next best thing which will likely follow suit.

    Look I don't want to sound trollish and I hope I don't but think about it for a second, will redoing the whole thing make things better when they could intergrate into what's already available? It would make more sense to go on and spend an enormous amount of time and money to create something completely from scratch, thinking it will be the norm (which in technology is a joke), only to have something marketed a few months down the road as that months next best thing.

    Aside from that, more counties/countries are slowly realizing the dangers of talking alone on cellulars so if governments impose harsh restrictions, what would make the people at Nokia, Ericsson or any other phone make think that people would dish out for a full blown laptop phone when they'd be restricted on its use?

    Example, many of the counties in my state (New York) ban driving while speaking on a cellphone, and many restaurants in New York City have begun banning people from speaking on cells while they dine. Now imagine if these restrictions became the norm all over the place... Shit it'd be useless to have a web capable phone. Aside from that are things going a bit far where these companies think technology will be something everyone would need to survive?
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @08:03PM (#152812) Homepage
    The Neilson Norman Group [nngroup.com] did a study of real users' experience with wap phones a while back.

    Reading the summary, and having a lot of respect for what the authors had to say on other topics convinced me it wasn't worth my while to bother with WAP.

    The WAP Usability Report [nngroup.com] (available in PDF form for $26) reports on a study where 20 people were given WAP enabled phones for a week and asked to report back on their experiences. The study was done in London because of the advanced state of WAP services there. Read the summary here [useit.com].

    • 70% of users reported they would not use WAP within a year
    • One user calculated it was cheaper to buy a newspaper and throw away everything but the TV listings rather than use WAP to check the BBC schedule
    The summary says:

    our basic conclusion is that WAP usability fails miserably; accomplishing even the simplest of tasks takes much too long to provide any user satisfaction. It simply should not take two minutes to find the current weather forecast or what will be showing on BBC1 at 8 p.m.
    These are the same guys who test out concepts in web page design by sitting real users in front of browsers and watching them use the net. You may be familiar with some of the principles:

    I strongly recommend anyone producing either content or software for the web regularly read Jakob Nielson's http://www.useit.com [useit.com], where you could have found out before you invested that neither WAP nor advertising on the Web work [useit.com].

    I link these and a couple other useful sites in my brief section on Some Web Application Design Basics [sunsite.dk] in Use Validators and Load Generators to Test Your Web Applications [sunsite.dk]:

    I'm not talking about pretty rollover buttons here, folks.

    You need to understand that many web sites are developed with investments totalling many millions of dollars, only to have the effect of driving away any user who might have the misfortune to stumble across them, with much resulting heartbreak and the loss of fortunes.


    Mike [goingware.com]
  • My Sony Z5 mobile has a version of Internet Explorer embedded in it, and is a full web browser not some WAP display device.

    Phillip.
  • I'm speaking as someone who isn't deploying any WAP apps, so this is just some observations. WAP has yet to find a "killer app," and that was the most damaging blow. There was such a great rush to bring the WWW to cell phones that it seems no one bothered to ask "Why?".

    Last time I checked, 8 of the top 10 WAP sites were porn. PORN, fer cryin out loud, on a 1 bit, B&W, stamp-sized display. Wow, how hard-up for a woman do you have to be to surf WAP porn sites?

    Granted, a large part of the problem is that there aren't enough WAP-enabled devices in the hands of consumers. But so far, I just don't see anything productive materializing from WAP.

  • BEGIN SARCASM

    What, and nobody's pushing Bluetooth for these things? I though Bluetooth was going to be the killer wireless protocol . . .

    END SARCASM
  • The point isn't whether WAP is a good protocol or a bad protocol. If people had truly wanted to access the Web and do all the really wonderful things WAP promised us, in spite of any technical limitations, it would have become a screaming success.

    I don't want to screw around with a numeric keypad for messaging. I don't want to attempt to use a 2" screen to read the daily news. I don't have any interest in postage-stamp porn. I don't want time-delayed stock quotes. I certainly am not going to use my phone to buy anything.

    I'm not alone. Most people in the US and Europe just aren't clamoring for this technology. In looking for the next big thing, the tech investment community made this enormous 800-lb. gorilla made entirely of vapor.

    Sure, the Japanese dig instant messaging with their mobile phones. But they're also into animae, robot dogs, and anything that is miniaturized. Some things just don't translate. Happily, the world isn't completely homogenized yet.

  • If the above is correct, which other posts are saying it isn't, then your own argument works against you. If the only translation is at the content level, and that's only because of bandwidth restrictions, then there's no need for them! All there needs to be is a very simple javascript handler in the browser, and an industry-standard wap-browser navigator object. Then everyone can do a tiny bit of browser detection and provide a low-bandwidth copy of their site. Voila, no flashy shit, and a website that's designed for your viewing requirements with no stupid protocol conversions.

    Anyhow, I hate having to do browser detection. The web should be "code once, run anywhere" not "code eight times just in case some idiot insists on using a DSL modem with a 386 and a copy of Mosaic.

  • In Brazil the caller pays the connection, always

    Australia and New Zealand are the same. How can you possibly charge the person receiving the calls? What a bizarre pricing scheme! It's also opposite to the way interconnect charges are paid by the telcos. Which countries do this? I think Scandinavia does, but didn't think it was widespread.

  • Well the way they handle that here is that the user pays "what they should reasonably expect to pay." This means if you're on global roam and someone calls you from home, they pay a local mobile call, you pay for the call to leg it round the world. Hence, global roam is only really any good if your business is picking up the tab.
  • As for "just about every standard", I hope you're talking about phones

    Nah, I actually meant NTSC & ISDN. They're my two pet peeves. NTSC's quality is rubbish compared to PAL. And why have 56k when you could have 64?

  • No, still don't see anything good about it. New Zealand has free local calls as well. All they need to key on is the first few numbers, same as any other route. Probably the stupidity again comes from a lack of standards used in the US. You guys don't all have GSM, I hear. That's useless.

    Just about every standard there is was made as a proprietary system by Americans and then bettered by European standards bodies. Pity the US never seems to wait for the good stuff to come through. I'm sure *that's* a good reason WAP ain't doing so well, too:/

  • Right, M-services is definitely not about scrapping WAP. Just check out the GSM Assocation's M-services guidelines @ http://www.gsmworld.com/presentations/m_services/a a35.doc [gsmworld.com]

    M-services requires WAP. What M-services seems to really be about is setting a minimum level of functionality and a common look-and-feel for all phones.

  • See! Photographic Evidence [kiskeya.net] that WAP really does suck.
  • never gonna happen, it's too proprietery. The new verison of wap supports xhtml, and this provides your imode-like functionality. To get the imode-like speed we're going to have to do something more complex and scrap many of the cell towers we have now and put in more per area. Ie, not very soon. So don't diss WAP.
  • Yeah uh except WAP 2.0 supports xHTML, a larger subset of HTML compared to cHTML. Plus it's standard whereas cHTML is no where near a standard.
  • Yes they're idiots. They wouldn't know the difference bewtween GPRS vs WAP if it bit them in the ass. "Hey bubba this hear wap is crap". They should all be slaughtered for stupidity.
  • There are a bunch of interesting versions out there, XHTML, WAP, iMode (isn't this just a special version of HTML anyways?), you name it. It's just a question of when they will find the right combo at the right time.
  • Heh...I first read this as "Mobile Phone Industry to Scrap WOPS". My Italian pride got all worked up for a second.

  • Scrapping WAP in the USA? That's good news. Hopefully they'll do the same for HDTV soon.

    My dream would be to have Japanese i-mode here for mobile phones, and the successful European COFDM standard for HDTV here. That's what people want, but with the politics here, unfortunately it will never happen...


    Super eurobeat from Avex and Konami unite in your DANCE!

  • No need for a special protocol like WAP, instead Webmasters will key off of USER_AGENT and render differently for phones. Its that simple.

    I was completely with you up to this point... :-)

    There's actually no need to deliver separate content for phones at all, whether it's WAP or a "light" version of your HTML pages.

    Without all the font and table nonsense that older browsers require to get a decent looking page out of them, an HTML page is already very, very lightweight. With the media-specific style sheets in CSS2, there will be no need to deliver custom pages for each browser; simply define a style sheet for each device or media type you wish to support, and you're done.

    Maintaining two or three versions of each page on your site doesn't seem too heinous when your site is a few dozen, or even a few score pages. Try maintaining a site that's >1800 pages that way some time - and then update over half the pages on a weekly basis. You'll find out, as I have, that the custom-page-for-every-browser approach simply doesn't scale well.

    It's certainly possible - I did it for nearly two years, with the capable help of BBEdit and MacPerl. But it would have been much simpler, and cut the page count in half, if I could have counted on decent browser support for CSS.
  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @06:49PM (#152831) Journal
    Is it business, news, stocks, weather? Local shopping?

    AllOutWap.com [alloutwap.com] ranks the top sites [alloutwap.com].

    Answer? Porn, Sports and (mobile phone) Ring-Tones..

    Porn, although originally referring to writing about prostitutes, usually means images. I remember ASCII Art nudes in High School (early 80's): zit-stricken geeks hunched around a green-screen blurring their vision every-so-slightly to make out that picture of Victoria Principal. Real cool. I can (thank the Powers) only imagine how images look on Nokia 61xx Dark-Gray/Light-Gray screens.... If you're going to appeal to the Internet masses, you need to display full color motion pictures (well, you can cheat and optimize the display for flesh tones and rocking motions).

    Although the marketing people understand the need to push porn (why else is it called W(h)AP and PALM PILOT?) the engineers are just figuring this out (evidently). How discouraging that your product has to appeal to the lowest common motivator to be accepted.

    Why is it call High Tech, again?
    --

  • I hate to point this out but it means nothing until standards are in place. I have been working in this industry a while and carriers do not like putting in non-stanardised equipment. The only time you will see it is with dominant carriers ie NTT with imode. On top of that you have to convince the carriers, developers and content providers to fork out more money, maybe this is the ploy. Not going to happen in the current industry climate though.

  • Yes, it's about time indeed.

    For those of us using a more sane phone [nokiausa.com], that's 4817022688084631 (including a single-quote, and it's 10 keypresses cheaper!). (In actual fact, that string will probably work with any T9-enabled phone.)

    --
  • One user calculated it was cheaper to buy a newspaper and throw away everything but the TV listings rather than use WAP to check the BBC schedule

    It gets worse. Try to make an airline reservation.

    Automated voice-based services are an alternative, but they suck too. As an exercise, call TellMe 1-800-555-TELL and order a movie ticket. Can you do it in less than five minutes? You'll have to listen to several ads along the way, which you can't skip.

  • It be kinda like saying that using gzip to compressed a file before transfering, is offering faster dial-up.

    In my experience, using Accept-Encoding: gzip (part of HTTP 1.1, RFC 2068 [ietf.org]) does gain some download speed over dial-up, but it's less noticeable in Mozilla 0.9.1 because Moz renders tables as they're being downloaded, while IE and older Netscape wait for the last </table> before drawing anything. (This is part of why Slashdot articles seem to take a looooong time to load on IE.) You just have to design your transport and application protocols to move the common types of data (text and pixels) efficiently. That is, send and store XML documents in a compressed form, as compactness of markup was never a design feature of XML.

  • >personally, I believe that a phone should not be >made into a browser

    Yeah, wouldnt it make more sense to put a phone onto a laptop computer? at least then you`d have a chance of actually seeing which webpage you were on?
  • by legLess ( 127550 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @07:24PM (#152837) Journal
    Jakob Nielsen [useit.com], usability guru, had a couple articles on WAP:
    • Graceful Degradation of Scalable Internet Services [useit.com], from October 1999, calls WAP the Wrong Approach to Portability and generally trashes the idea that cell phones as we know them will ever be productive 'net access devices.
    • In WAP Backlash [useit.com], from July 2000, he says "skip the current generation of WAP" and trashes it some more. Plus he says "I told you so" a couple times.
    • WAP Field Study Findings [useit.com], December 2000; good quote: "Considering that WAP users pay for airtime by the minute, one of our users calculated that it would have been cheaper for her to buy a newspaper and throw away everything but the TV listings than to look up that evening's BBC programs on her WAP phone." Trashes WAP some more, says "I told you so" a couple more times (God, he loves saying that ;).
    Anyway, good stuff if you want a user-centric view of why WAP tanked.

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • I haven't used WAP much, not because of content, or speed problems, but because of the price. Maybe if I had used it more, I would be aware of the lack of content....

    Speed was not an issue. To check the email, and see a webpage once in a while 9.6 is enough for my needs.

    I use a pre-paid phone card, and in pre-WAP, there was no way to make data calls. With all the hype surrounding WAP, data calls were enabled by all the operators here in Portugal, for all types of cards, pre-paid or regular. They expected that everyone would be using WAP... The problem? The price. At least with my operator (a Vodafone subsidiary), WAP calls are at a fixed rate of 18 cents per minute.

    Now, the fun part: regular data calls (non WAP), were charged according to the destination phone network, for the same price as a voice call. As my phone operator also has a ISP, it has a access number within the GSM network. My price plan costs about $1.5 usd for an entire hour of talk time.... compare that for the price of 18c*60= $11 per hour...

    For some time I even used my laptop with a nokia phone with a infrared port to check email while not at home....

  • by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @06:05PM (#152839) Homepage
    WAP isn't the real problem. If anything, it's that stripped down language WML. The only crimp WAP adds is that ridiculous per transfer byte limit, a bit under 1.5k, the compressed version that is. But the real problem is-- unsurprisingly-- the crusty hardware the stuff runs on. Unless this new standard insists on certain minimal UI... mostly, real keyboards or an acceptable substitute like graffiti... it's not going to be much better. And while we're dreaming, lets get a decent price structure where the cost of contacting me by cellphone is your expense, not mine, and text messages are cheaper than the bandwidth needed for talking.
    --
  • Hi, I haven't used HSCSD yet as no operator in Spain is offering at the moment.

    I use WAP services through GPRS which is great: fast, always online and don't have to look how much time I am logged. Right now speed is 3+1, 3*14.4 = 43.2 kbps downlink and 14.4 kbps uplink. When the new R520 firmware arrives I might connect with 4+1 (57.6/14.4).
    Believe me, if you can use GPRS for WAP avoid other options!
  • I would go to an authorized Ericsson Technical Center and they will flash it. Nothing more. I have friends with other phones that made it this way and there were no problems.

    But in some cases (i.e. if I would like to have a development version of the phone's sw), I would call a friend of mine who works there and tell him to flash it for me.
  • I'm a spanish engineer and developer involved with anything related to wireless aplications. I've seen a lot of this stuff going on from the beginning and I can say you some things:
    • WAP may suck, but not as much as people claim: I mean, the majority of wapsites are not created with care. They usually don't care about usability and user comfort, as Jakob Nielsen says; most of them don't mind about making too much accesses to the wireless network instead of pushing the limits of the phone memory and not rethinking the whole content for the wireless medium. The bare 1300 and something bytes of max. wml deck of the Nokia 7110 (the phone reference), is enough to make some pretty things, but people prefer to link everything, despite the high user cost of accessing the wireless network.
    • WAP insecure? no more than other services All the people who get in WAP always complain about the white spot that makes the WAP Gateway, but don't realize that this element in the architecture is the safest of all. It's easier to defend a single machine where you know exactly what kind of things it should be doing that any other, let's say a mirror of an ecommerce site database. Phone companies can monitor this machine well. And in the other side, if anyone gets to infiltrate in the gateway, he would have to search and identify very volatile tiny strigs of plaintext in ,tipically, 4Gb memory of a monitored server, and believe me, even having full root access to the server it's almost impossible.
    • The real reason with the failure of WAP services: I have observed during all this wireless hype that the real reason for peole rejecting WAP is that the services already made doesn't give the people using it real value and they are very overpriced. All the sites offer the same: some news, stock info... that's all? And all of this is billed at such astronomical prices that is cheaper buying a whole newspaper that consulting a news item on WAP. I have calculated that the right price to make wireless services explode would be about 0.60 euros per Megabyte transferred.
    Right now I'm developing my own personal services, using a very good mobile phone (Ericsson R520m [ericsson.com]). By the moment I can program my coffe machine by WAP, and also I'm starting to use WAP push services to be notified of important news events and having the information I really care wherever I go. Believe me, with GPRS networks, a right billing scheme and good personalized services WAP sucks a lot less :-)
  • Why not combine a mobile phone with a colour PDA and just use HTML ? Or even have 2 sepearate devices, a bluetooth phone and bluetooth PDA.

    Why bother with these stripped down, non standard protocols at all ??

  • WAP has provisions for identifying the user agent. It can use the data from this to provide customized content for larger sizes if it wants. Its too much effort (money) for most people to do, so they go for the lowest common denominator.

  • I have found few good services(buying movie tickets, bank services), and also used them. Just wanted to say that WAP isn't slow, it's GSM which is used as bearer for WAP at least where I live. When GPRS comes things will change, but at that point WAP might be too limited for all new services...
  • This year's feb. edition of Communications of the ACM [acm.org] has an article covering WAP' security problems.
    I don't have it with me now (so this post is somewhat useless) but the general idea was that several security issues weren't consideres during the design stage, and "fixing" those
    issues would mean a great deal of redesign for the protocol.
    Besides this security problem, i think WAP was doomed from the start, if you consider the fact that most
    providers are including or going to include a TCP/IP stack on their units (and mobility issues can be solved using Mobile-IP as transport).
  • All of this dicussion of WAP/WML/blah blah blah ignores the real problem behind the lack of Internet-On-My-Phone acceptance: the interface. The interface for Internet phones sucks. You can talk about byte-size transmissions and protocol errors, but that doesn't really matter: you can transmit data over Xmodem just fine, thank you, if that's what it comes down to. The problem is that it takes ages to find your info, due to the hideous menu structure the phones have and the inherent limitations of using 10 keys to input a selection of 127 characters. This is mainly because Sprint and its brethren have high-value contracts with AOHell, M$N, and Yahoo (oops, Yahoo!, I mustn't forget the "!") so that they appear as the first things in your minibrowser, when in fact the most useful thing you can do with the phone is look up weather and movie times. The day I can attach an address-book entry to a Net bookmark, like I currently can with a phone number, is the day the mobile Internet will become useful. Imagine how much simpler that scenario is: by assigning "New York Weather" to number 2 on my keypad, I can hold the button down and have the weather. Why has no one thought of this? Take a cue from M$ and integrate the browser into the OS.
  • Which might explain why the W3C has dropped HTML as well... the current recommendation for webpages is now XHTML, which is based on XML as well and follows the same strict rules about tags (as XHTML is simply an application of XML, using the existing HTML tags in an XML document). The other fun side effect is that it is now legal to embed third party tags inside an XHTML document, via using the namespace XML extension.

    The only drawback is that most (all?) browsers don't support XHTML really well yet - the best you can do is write XHTML that also happens to be simimlar to what browsers expect for HTML. (i.e., most browsers will choke on <BR/> so instead you have to use <BR /> since you must close the BR tag in XML - <BR></BR> might work, but I think NS interprets </BR> as a standard break.)

    --

  • But they didn't invent a whole new set of protocols. WAP runs over TCP/IP, on port 80 (HTTP). If you telnet to a WAP site on port 80, and type "GET /\n\n", you get WML spat out at you (similarly, if you telnet to a web site on that port, and type "GET ...", you get HTML).

    There have been a number of minor new protocols created, but as far as integrating into the existing Internet is concerned, the only new ones worth worrying about are the protocols for content (WML, WMLscript, WBMP, etc). These protocols had to be created in parallel to their web equivalents (HTML, Javascript, jpeg/gif/png) primarily because WAP clients don't have the grunt to handle them, and to a lesser extent because of the 9600 bps network restriction.

    Protocols also had to be created on the telephony side of things, but they had to be created anyway, because there was no existing set of protocols for this sort of data over GSM. I'm not aware of any reason why the telephony-based WAP protocols couldn't continue to be used in the future, just adapted to GPRS, or 3G, or whatever (although I'm not a telephony protocol expert).

    To me, it seems that the content protocols have been the big problem. There's a huge web out there, all written in HTML, and WAP phones can't access it. I would estimate that maybe 0.0000001% of content on the web is WML, and therefore suitible for existing WAP phones. And because there's virtually nil WAP-accessible content, WAP is pretty much useless at the moment.

    Once WAP (or WAP-like) phones are able to handle HTML, they will become popular. They won't be able to handle HTML until a) the clients are good enough for HTML (ie. fast processors, more memory, better displays), and b) the network connection gets faster than GSM 9600.

  • Phones browsers will never be Internet Explorer

    Want to bet? [microsoft.com] Go out and buy a Sony Z5.

  • You guys don't all have GSM, I hear. That's useless.
    Actually, the US does have a fairly decent GSM network. I've been using a GSM phone here for over a year now.

    And while we're dreaming, lets get a decent price structure where the cost of contacting me by cellphone is your expense, not mine
    What?? I think the current system has several distinct advantages over what you describe.

    First, the cellphone user is not paying for the call, they're paying for the airtime and their connection to the cellular network. Why should the caller pay for your choice to use a cellphone? Just don't answer the phone!

    Second, the caller won't know in advance how much the call will cost. What if I'm roaming internationally? The caller may think they're dialing a local call, but still get charged $5.00 a minute.

  • by rhysweatherley ( 193588 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @06:00PM (#152854)
    One of the reasons WAP was a disaster, IMHO, was because they invented a completely new set of protocols to do things that IP/UDP/TCP could already do. Presumably this was because high latency, low bandwidth wireless links couldn't handle regular Internet prototols.

    This was always a nonsense claim, since people were running IP over 2400 baud modems 10+ years ago, which is about as high latency, low bandwidth as you can get. IP protocol stacks typically have trouble keeping up with high bandwidth links such as fibre, not the low end.

    The real reason was control: anything interoperable with the regular Internet would have been impossible to charge a premium for. This resulted in a separate WAP-Internet that didn't have the same level of content as the regular Internet. Users stayed away in droves.

    Let's hope the new "wireless Internet" is based on existing standards this time, instead of something they made up out of thin air.

  • by abdulwahid ( 214915 ) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @02:38AM (#152859) Homepage

    Mainly because HTML is crap! The main problem with HTML is that it has such bad structure making it incredibly hard to parse. Whats more, companies like Microsoft have allowed people to get away with writing badly formed HTML so that a majority of the pages on the internet suffer from malformed HTML. Writing a HTML browser that strictly follows standards would cripple most web pages. WML gets around this problem by being XML based rather than SGML based. XML enforces much stricter rules on the structure of tags. For example, in XML tags have to be closed in the reverse order to which they were opened. Consequently, the parser is easier to write and a lot smaller. This is vital for phones and PDA that don't have hugh memory and processing powers. HTML is definitely not the way forward but is rather something we should consider dropping altogether.

  • WAP doesn't run over TCP/IP or HTTP for that matter.

    WAP doesn't run over HTTP (it's an alternative to HTTP), but it sure runs over TCP/IP. The WAP connection is established between the WAP gateway and the phone over TCP/IP. OK, I'm not absolutely sure about the TCP, but it's definitely over IP. Just check the address of a WAP gateway that you have to enter in your phone... Voilà: IP-Address.

    All they do is talk the WAP equivalents with the gateway, that will, in turn, go out and get the HTTP content. Of course, this is one of the reasons why WAP sucks.

    This is true, but the gateway bottleneck isn't the problem that WAP actually has. The problem is usability, not network performance. The problem is that today's WAP implementations are connection-oriented. The problem is that WAP is a poor adaption of HTML for the mobile devices.

    And it's too expensive. I'm not going to pay 15.6 times the amount of a normal internet connection for a speed of 1/6. That's a price-value relation of about 1/90! And the only advantage i get is being mobile. Even the UI is much worse. Why should I use it? Of course, if we speak of a Palm organizer here, the whole thing suddenly makes sense. But on the other hand, Palm browser often even support HTML 3.2. Why use WAP then?

    Today's phones simply suck as far as WAP is concerned. It is not sexy to do WAP.


    --

  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @06:49PM (#152863) Homepage Journal
    This is a vary good point. The telcos and hardware vendors' decision to use a non-interoperable protocol and access mechanism was extremely short sighted. I'm suprised they didn't learn from a half decade of web content delivery experience and three decades of IP based networking experience; about the tremendous of interoperability. It's truly increadible the architects of WAP and GPRS didn't get this right. Oh, well. Perhaps 3G will be better. It doesn't sound to me like the replacement of WAP with M-Services alone will do the trick. We'll see...

    --CTH


    ---
  • Is it? I use my cel to get the news on the way in to work everyday and to check my mail (no, not while I'm driving! I take light rail or commuter public transit) and while I'd like a larger screen and better UI, I always thought those were incremental issues rather than systemic.
  • The problem with WAP is that it was designed for really small screens with 3 or 4 lines, which looks great on a phone but isn't taking full advantage of a PDA. That's why AvantGo and Palm's browser aren't WAP based, because they want to be able to do and show more than WAP can offer.
  • by alex_siufy ( 411363 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @07:42PM (#152885)
    This is soooo wrong... WAP doesn't run over TCP/IP or HTTP for that matter. There is a vital piece, called a WAP gateway, that provides the translation services between the HTTP protocol and the WAP protocols mentioned before. The phones don't understand TCP/IP or HTTP. All they do is talk the WAP equivalents with the gateway, that will, in turn, go out and get the HTTP content. Of course, this is one of the reasons why WAP sucks.
  • They should have listened to the users and developers, who told them they weren't happy with WAP. But the problem is, they wanted a standard that they could control, so they could extort providers and charge businesses $30,000 (or however much it is now) to be a member of the WAP forum.

    It's the small businesses that invested so much money in the technology that will ultimately pay for the industries mistakes. The large companies which control the standards got a lot more out of it than they ever put in, just not as much as they were hoping for.

    On a related note, my favorite non-wap wireless internet service [trancell.com].
  • Slightly slanted article. WAP (also misnamed WAPI by some e-bizzers) has its place. It's amazingly simple at giving you old and crusty stock quotes.

    I love SprintPCS's attempt at online chat through their WAP browser: "i wuv you aways m0mmie ddeares7." {3.5 hours to type that}
  • Seems like WAP was already doomed last year. The Brits and euro web developers were already shunning WAP [useit.com] last year.

    I can still remember the system architects at work drumming up white papers to convice an outpouring of cash into R&D for WAP but it never quite got anywhere. Who has the time to drive (late) to work and do their makeup and hair much less key 4445533111229955 on their cell for the favorite stock quote?
  • by A Commentor ( 459578 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @06:00PM (#152900) Homepage

    WAP was just an application layer above GPRS. If this M-Services is it's replacement for WAP, how can it 'offer faster GPRS'. GPRS is the transport layer.

    It be kinda like saying that using gzip to compressed a file before transfering, is offering faster dial-up.

    By the way, is GPRS deployed anywhere in the US?

    Do you need buy.com Coupons [garlanger.com]

  • Hey how come iMode never comes up in these discussions of wireless internet? OK, I know it's a proprietary protocol, but the point is that
    a) it works, and
    b) it gets used.

    Having just worked in Japan for 6 months the thing I couldn't help noticing was that everybody's phone was much cooler than any of the ones available at home: lighter, smaller, cheaper, more functions, longer battery life etc(not just that they were shaped like Hello Kitty) and that most of my mates at work had readable colour screens on their phones and used iMode all the time for useful stuff like checking timetables, getting prices, getting weather reports etc etc, and the connection prices didn't seem so high (well, compared to the cost of living in Japan, perhaps that doesn't mean much). The week before I returned, DoCoMo reported that they had 20 million iMode users - which seems like a lot to me.

    So my question is: why don't DoCoMo set up iMode networks in other countries? IMHO, they'd do well, and we'd finally see some reasonable wireless services.

The road to hell is paved with NAND gates. -- J. Gooding

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