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Definition: WAP from The Macquarie Dictionary

a standard set of communication protocols to enable wireless devices, such as mobile phones and radio transceivers, to connect to the internet for various functions and services.

Etymology: W(ireless) A(pplication) P(rotocol)

Summary Article: WAP
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Initiative started in the 1990s by Unwired Planet and mobile phone manufacturers Motorola, Nokia, and Ericsson to develop a standard for delivering Web-like applications on mobile phones and other wireless devices. In theory WAP phones can be used for e-mail and messaging, reading Web pages, shopping, booking tickets, and making other financial transactions, as well as for phone calls. WAP as been superseded to some extent by 3G (third generation) mobile phone technology.

The WAP protocol has many similarities to Internet technologies. For instance, the Wireless Markup Language (WML) used to create WAP pages is very similar to HTML, which is used to create Web pages. Similarly, the WMLScript is based on JavaScript. Both WML and WMLScript are adapted and designed for a wireless environment, to address issues such as limited bandwidth and limited processing power in the mobile phone.

UK retailer WHSmith launched its WAP book retailing service in 2000, making it the first bookseller to support the mobile technology. Also in 2000 Manchester United football team and Vodafone announced a £30 million sponsorship deal: WAP users would receive news and scores on their handsets, and ultimately be able to watch live footage.

WAP is text-based, and limited by the slow transmission speed (9.6 Kbps) of the GSM technology currently used by mobile phones. In addition, keying in text on a standard mobile phone is a time-consuming and frustrating task. Mobile phones are therefore unlikely to replace personal computers as the most popular method of surfing the Web until faster access technologies such as GPRS and 3G are established. WAP does have a role to play, however, particularly in the transmission of location-based data to the mobile phone, such as information on restaurants, cinemas, clubs, and taxi services.


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