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G Pressure

With the next generation of wireless imminent, is WAP worth the trouble?

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This story appears in the April 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you have an Internet-enabled mobile phone or a Palm VII and have given the wireless Web a try, you know it's not quite the same as surfing from your desktop. It's as if the clock has been wound back to the earliest days of the Net: no graphics and slow. But that's all about to change: Thanks to 3G (third-generation) technology, a whole world of wireless broadband, multimedia and m-commerce is getting ready to come knocking.

Wap Upside Your Head

Look into your mobile phone future at these wired Web sites:

WAP.com: everything you ever wanted to know about WAP, plus a handy glossary for all those acronyms

WAP Forum: the official developers of the WAP standard

AnywhereYouGo.com: features a wide variety of wireless news, articles and resources

But before we look at where we're heading, let's take stock of where we're at. WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is currently the major standard in the United States when it comes to the mobile Internet. WAP allows mobile phones to access wireless services using WML (Wireless Markup Language) rather than HTML. However, WAP is limited by small bandwidth and few applications. You can check sports scores, stocks, flights, headlines and e-mail to a degree, but it's certainly not a fully realized vehicle for m-commerce.

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