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The Wireless Web

If you're waiting for WAP, don't hold your breath.

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This story appears in the July 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When the topic turns to wireless Web, one of the first acronyms you'll hear is WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). Intended as a standard way to handle Net access over smart phones and handheld devices, the widely endorsed WAP offers a binary delivery system that's more efficient than HTTP at lower bandwidths and provides a version of XML (the extensible markup language) designed for small screens. It also features protocols for orchestrating complex e-commerce transactions.

However, there have already been some problems. The usual squabble over technical standards is being exacerbated by the fact that shortcomings in security features have prompted conflicting revisions of the standard. By the time Version 1.3 corrects those problems and is approved sometime this summer, it won't be compatible with prototype phones designed for Version 1.1. And because it takes about 18 months to design a phone compatible with a new microbrowser, volume shipments of WAP-enabled phones won't start until late 2001.

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