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    What is WAP?

    The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is an open, global specification that empowers mobile users with wireless devices to easily access and interact with information and services instantly.

    What is WAP Forum?

    The WAP Forum is the industry association comprising more than 200 members that has developed the de-facto world standard for wireless information and telephony services on digital mobile phones and other wireless terminals.

    The primary goal of the WAP Forum is to bring together companies from all segments of the wireless industry value chain to ensure product interoperability and growth of wireless market.

    WAP Forum members represent over 95% of the global handset market, carriers with more than 100 million subscribers, leading infrastructure providers, software developers and other organisations providing solutions to the wireless industry. For more information see http://www.wapforum.org/

    Who are the members of WAP Forum?

    The current WAP Forum members are listed here.

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    What is the purpose of WAP?

    To enable easy fast delivery of relevant information and services to mobile users.

    What type of devices will use WAP?

    Handheld digital wireless devices such as mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios, smartphones and communicators -- from low-end to high-end.

    Which wireless networks does WAP work with?

    WAP is designed to work with most wireless networks such as CDPD, CDMA, GSM, PDC, PHS, TDMA, FLEX, ReFLEX, iDEN, TETRA, DECT, DataTAC, Mobitex.

    What operating systems are compatible with WAP?

    WAP is a communications protocol and an application environment. It can be built on any operating system including PalmOS, EPOC, Windows CE, FLEXOS, OS/9, JavaOS etc. It provides service interoperability even between different device families.

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    Is the WAP Forum a standards body or competitive with existing standards bodies?

    No. The WAP Forum is an industry association that supports and gives input to existing standards bodies. Its specifications will be contributed to appropriate standards bodies.

    Which standards bodies does WAP Forum have relationships with?

    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI), Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), European Computer Manufacturers' Association (ECMA).

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    Why bother with WAP?

    WAP provides a medium to connect in a secure fast, nimble, online, interactive way with services, information and other users.

    What is a micro-browser?

    Client software designed to overcome challenges of mobile handheld devices that enables wireless access to services such as Internet information in combination with a suitable network server.

    What kind of services can you access using WAP?

    Let's start with an example scenario: Imagine stepping out of an office building to go to the airport, using your WAP-enabled wireless device to check the traffic congestion, followed by the train timetable and then purchasing a train ticket on-line instead of driving. On the way to the airport, you select your aisle seat and check in for the flight, reserving a special meal. Unpack your raincoat after looking up the weather at your destination.

    Other types of services which can benefit from WAP technology are: Customer care and provisioning, message notification and call management, e-mail, telephony value-added services and unified messaging, mapping and locator services, weather and traffic alerts, news, sports and information services, e-commerce transactions and banking services, online address books, directory services and corporate intranet applications.

    Why are developers writing applications for WAP?

    WAP, with the wireless industry behind it, provides necessary technology for developers to develop, deploy and support applications for users of wireless devices, which by the end of 2000 will exceed 100 million worldwide. This will result in significant revenue gains for developers.

    Why are content providers adopting WAP?

    With little work, they can extend their business model to include a huge untapped market of mobile customers.

    Why are software tool developers supporting WAP?

    With little effort, tool developers can extend their existing tools to take advantage of new opportunities arising in the wireless marketplace.

    What benefits does WAP technology bring to end-users?

    Easy, secure access to relevant Internet/intranet information and other services through mobile phones, pagers or other wireless devices. Being the de-facto world standard means users of any WAP devices can access basic WAP services, simplifying technology choices for end-users.

    Why are network operators behind WAP?

    With minimal risk & investment, WAP enables operators to decrease churn, cut costs, and increase revenues by improving existing value-added services and offering exciting new information services.

    Why are equipment manufacturers interested in WAP?

    Being a global open specification suite, WAP has generated the critical mass for manufacturers that is opening up new product and marketing opportunities in the wireless industry, providing new revenue to participating companies.

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    What is the internal organisational structure of WAP Forum?

    The WAP Forum is organised into the following functional areas:

    • The Board of Directors
    • The Specification Committee
    • The Architecture Group
    • Specification Working Groups
    • Expert Working Groups

    Details on the internal organisation can be found in the WAP Work Processes document.

    Is it possible for non-members to influence the WAP Forum specifications?

    Submissions from all parties via the WAP Forum website are welcome and will be made available to the internal working group chairperson for review. However only WAP Forum members may attend working group meetings or vote on specifications.

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    What is the status of the WAP specification?

    The WAP Forum released v1.1 in June 1999 and is currently working on v1.2, which should be approved by November 1999 and available to members a couple of months earlier for final comments.

    What changes / new features in WAP v1.1?

    WAP v1.1 has the same functionality as WAP v1.0 and has incorporated detailed feedback from the first implementers into a new version ready for commercial use.   Refinements and clarifications of the specifications have been made to enable compliance and interoperability testing.  Modifications were made to WML to align it with the upcoming XHTML specification from the W3C.

    What changes / new features in WAP v1.2?

    WAP v1.2 has the same functionality as WAP v1.1 and continues the incorporation of detailed feedback from implementers.  Moreover, WAP v1.2 introduces the WAP Push Architecture, enhances the Wireless Telephony Applications (WTA) specifications, and includes support for additional bearer network technologies.

    How will the industry achieve interoperability?

    Multi-vendor interoperability is essential for WAP's deployment. WAP Forum is finalising compliance specifications and interoperability test suites. WAP Forum is also contracting with a leading independent organisation to oversee this process. This will give a high degree of confidence that WAP compliant devices, networks, and applications will all work together.

    When will WAP enabled products be released to market?

    There will be a variety of WAP enabled products, such as servers, devices, and applications released during 1999.

    Will WAP devices cost more?

    WAP was designed for the current generation of wireless devices. Fundamental design changes are not necessary from today's mass market products. WAP adds a relatively small additional memory requirement. In volume production WAP devices will still be able to reach mass market prices.

    Assuming all goes well with the technical standards, what assurances are there that a suitable market exists to sustain related products, and that prices will be affordable?

    Both mobile and the Internet have seen tremendous recent growth and the market outlook for convergence products seems bright. Initiatives to address the provision of efficient information and services by various companies before the formation of the WAP Forum have also indicated the existence of a potential mass market. Prices will be driven to be affordable by the careful design of WAP's specifications to be well suited to current product capabilities, by mass-market volumes and by vigorous competition.

    Wireless data services have been talked about for a decade, why will WAP succeed where previous attempts have failed to reach mass-markets?

    Technology adoption has been slowed by the industry's lack of standards to make hand-held products Internet compatible. WAP provides the de-facto global open standard for wireless data services.

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    What are the advantages of membership in the WAP Forum?

    Some of the key the advantages of membership include:

    • Participate in driving future evolution of WAP
      • provide comments on specification drafts as they are created by the technical working groups
      • provide input for consideration
      • attend technical briefings
      • participate directly in working groups
    • Participate in the formation of WAP's Marketing and Communication message
    • Network with other industry participants
    • Access Essential Intellectual Property held by any other Member on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms
    • Nominate & elect Directors to the WAP Forum Board

    What are the categories of Membership?

    The WAP Forum provides two categories of membership: Full Membership and Associate Membership.  Only Full members may nominate and vote for individuals as Directors.  Details of the respective rights of Full members and Associate members are set out in the Forum's Articles of Association and in the Schedule to the Application Form.

    How does a company become a member of the WAP Forum?

    Membership details and an application form are available here. Please review and follow the instructions on the application to become a member.

    What are WAP Forum's membership dues?

    Annual dues for a Full Membership are $27,500 USD. Annual dues for an Associate Membership are $7,500 USD.

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    Who can attend WAP Forum meetings?

    Working meetings are open only to WAP Forum members. However WAP Forum often holds open meetings alongside the working meetings where any interested party or prospective member can hear about WAP Forum, WAP technology and current activities, and ask questions.

    What is the schedule of WAP Forum meetings?

    A complete calendar of WAP Forum events can be found here.

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    Why isn't WAP using existing Internet standards?

    WAP is using existing Internet standards.  The WAP architecture was designed to enable standard off-the-shelf Internet servers to provide services to wireless devices.  In addition, when communicating with wireless devices, WAP uses many Internet standards such as XML, UDP and IP. The WAP wireless protocols are based on Internet standards such as HTTP and TLS but have been optimised for the unique constraints of the wireless environment.

    Internet standards such as HTML, HTTP, TLS and TCP are inefficient over mobile networks, requiring large amounts of mainly text based data to be sent. Standard HTML web content generally cannot be displayed in an effective way on the small size screens of pocket-sized mobile phones and pagers, and navigation around and between screens is not easy in one-handed mode. HTTP and TCP are not optimised for the intermittent coverage, long latencies and limited bandwidth associated with wireless networks. HTTP sends its headers and commands in an inefficient text format instead of compressed binary. Wireless services using these protocols are often slow, costly and difficult to use. The TLS security standard requires many messages to be exchanged between client and server which, with wireless transmission latencies, results in a very slow response for the user.

    WAP has been optimised to solve all these problems, utilising binary transmission for greater compression of data, and is optimised for long latency and low to medium bandwidth. WAP sessions cope with intermittent coverage and can operate over a wide variety of wireless transports using IP where possible and other optimised protocols where IP is impossible. The WML language used for WAP content makes optimum use of small screens and allows easy navigation with one hand without a full keyboard, and has built-in scalability from two-line text displays through to the full graphic screens on smart phones and communicators.

    So, is WAP going in a fundamentally different direction than Internet standards?

    No. Many of WAP Forum's protocols are Internet standards such as XML, IP and UDP. The Forum has created a protocol suite that is optimised for the mobile environment. WAP Forum is working closely with the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) to ensure that the future versions of HTML, HTTP and TCP will accommodate the special needs of mobile devices and can be supported in the WAP framework. This endeavour is helped by the fact that many of WAP Forum's members are also members of the W3C and/or IETF. WAP Forum is working in the IETF and closely with the W3C to ensure that the next generation versions of TCP, HTTP and HTML reflect the requirements for efficiency in mobile networks, building on the work WAP Forum has done to date. W3C is particular has recognised the expertise in WAP Forum in the wireless domain. W3C and WAP Forum have issued a joint white paper available on the W3C and WAP Forum web sites.

    How is WML different from XML?

    XML is a meta-language defined by the W3C. This means that it is a series of rules for how to create other languages for specific applications. Content is not directly encoded in XML, but in a specific markup language defined using XML. WML is an example of a specific language for wireless applications that is fully compliant with XML's rules. WML is thus an XML application.

    Is Java competitive with WAP?

    No. Java is a programming language and WAP is primarily a communications protocol and markup language. WAP can be implemented in Java or on JavaOS, as it is platform neutral. In fact Java provides many constructs that are useful in building a WAP implementation.

    Why have a new scripting language instead of JavaScript?

    WMLScript is similar to JavaScript® or ECMAScript but has been optimised for use within modest handheld wireless devices. WMLScript makes minimal demands on memory and CPU usage and omits a number of functions that are not required from other scripting languages. WMLScript is integrated with WML in a particularly flexible way for developers.

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    Is WAP secure?

    Yes. WAP includes a specification called WTLS which implements options for authentication and encryption and is optimised for use in the mobile environment

    How does WAP integrate telephony with Internet based services?

    WAP v1.1 will include an optional specification known as WTA (Wireless Telephony Applications). This will allow incoming and outgoing calls to be handled within WML and WMLScript, permitting trusted parties such as network operators to deploy combined voice call and Internet services in an easily programmable way, in conjunction with a network WTA server. Example uses are automatically calling a number found in a yellow pages search, and visual interfaces to voicemail systems.

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    Is SIM Toolkit competitive with WAP?

    SIM Toolkit is a smartcard centric method of deploying applications that applies only to GSM and to SMS and USSD transports. Applications must be distributed on smartcards. WAP is an Internet centric method of deploying applications that is independent of the network technology. Applications and content are kept centrally on web servers and downloaded as required. While there is some overlap, WAP is a particularly good choice when deploying applications that also have an HTML version for desktop use. Four major smartcard vendors are members of WAP Forum and there is current work on building interfaces between the two technologies. Smartcards have a role in the future to play in WAP security and user/operator personalization.

    How does Bluetooth relate to WAP?

    Bluetooth is a local area low power radio link between devices. Many of the usage scenarios for Bluetooth will also involve one of the devices communicating over the air using WAP. While many Bluetooth members are also WAP members, and it is expected that many future handheld wireless devices will deploy both Bluetooth and WAP technology, the two technologies fundamentally address different problems.

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    What direction is WAP going in for the future?

    Current interest areas include end-to-end security, smartcard interfaces, connection-oriented transport protocols, persistent storage, billing interfaces and push technology. WAP Forum members can participate in driving the future evolution of WAP's specifications.

    Is WAP suitable for multimedia mobile services?

    A current area of interest within WAP Forum is evolution to support multimedia mobile services. WAP v1.1 and v1.2 are open protocols that allow the transport of many forms of multimedia content.  However, some multimedia services, especially those based on streaming media, require further enhancements to WAP.

    Will WAP comply with Third Generation wireless standards?

    Yes, WAP has been designed to be as independent as possible from the underlying network technology.

    Is WAP necessary with higher bandwidth 3G networks?

    Even as bandwidths increase, the cost of that bandwidth does not fall to zero. These costs result from higher power usage in the terminals, higher costs in the radio sections, greater use of RF spectrum and increased network loading. In addition the original constraints WAP was designed for -- intermittent coverage, small screens, low power consumption, wide scalability over bearers and devices and one-handed operation -- are still valid in 3G networks. Finally, we can expect the bandwidth required by applications users want to use to steadily increase. This means there is still a need to optimise use of device and network resources for the wireless environments. We can expect WAP to evolve optimised support for multimedia applications and continue to be relevant. If WAP is very successful in mass-markets on 2.5G networks, 3G networks may be needed purely for capacity relief with the same applications.

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    The WAP Forum began with four founders in 1997; it has now grown to more than 200 members, many among the most powerful telecom, IT, and software companies from around the world. What can account for this fast, far-reaching growth across industries and continents?

    Across many markets and technologies, convergence of mobile, telephony, handheld computing and the Internet has created a latent demand for common standards to ignite the next phase of market growth. A number of companies' innovations have been hampered in reaching mass-markets though lack of such standards. WAP Forum has provided the catalyst for this particular area of convergence and has been eagerly seized upon by many innovative organisations. WAP Forum's action oriented approach and strong management has enabled it to move very quickly in this space, causing a snowball effect.

    Standards issues can be tumultuous. What is the WAP Forum doing to avoid the standards battles seen in cases such as 56 Kbps modems, xDSL, and DVD products? Was the Forum created at least partly in the hopes of heading off such conflicts before they develop?

    The number one goal of the WAP Forum is to foster the implementation of one compatible global Internet standard for small handheld devices on all wireless networks. WAP Forum has been pro-active in working with other standards organisations to promote a common direction. By establishing strong relationships with the W3C and ETSI, possible standards battles were avoided. By getting the support of NTT DoCoMo, DDI, IDO, Panasonic, Mitsubishi and other Japanese members, WAP Forum has ensured Japanese support. By having a board structure well balanced between carriers and vendors representing major regions and technologies, WAP Forum's inclusive approach has been successful thus far in avoiding standards conflicts and the resulting fragmentation of the wireless Internet. If we have a browser war, we will slow adoption at all levels. If the application space is fragmented content providers will not deploy as much content, carriers will have to worry about supporting incompatible phones, and manufacturers will either have to build redundant technologies at a higher cost to carriers and end users or address only a portion of the potential market. So far we are on track to avoid fragmentation through building strong wireless industry consensus.

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