WAP faces limitations

The much hyped Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which will give mobile phones Internet access is facing major short-term limitations, an industry executive claims.

David Marchant, CEO of mobile messaging company PocketMail, said the current slow data transfer speeds would limit the WAP content being sent to mobile phones.

"I see WAP as an intermediate technology . . . manufacturers have done a fabulous job on marketing WAP. . . but the reality is you won't be able to surf the Web from a phone with current data transfer speeds," he said.

Marchant said WAP services may also be limited by a "chicken and egg" scenario.

Without real bandwidth capabilities, applications will not be developed and without applications, improved bandwidth is not required, he said.

"Three years down the track it will get very interesting with 3G (third generation mobile technology) coming out," he said. "I see WAP as an opportunity in business for servicing mobile devices."

PocketMail, providing mobile e-mail services, is preparing to launch in the Australian and New Zealand market late February.

Using specially designed cable-free devices, users compose their e-mail message, dial up the PocketMail service from a mobile or wireline phone, hold the device up to the handset, and press the PocketMail send button.

Marchant said PocketMail is releasing the Oregan Scientific PM-32 and PocketMail BackFlip for Palm, which enable users to send and receive e-mail messages via mobile phones, fixed line phones or Palm devices in Australia and New Zealand next year.

Using proprietary technology from US-based company PocketScience, the PocketMail service transforms the data message to voice for transmission over the phone line. The messages are then converted back to data to be read as e-mail text, Marchant said.

The services will initially be limited to e-mail messages, but Marchant said PocketMail is already working to develop future applications such as mobile banking and workforce applications.

Marchant said the PocketMail products will be available through traditional retail channels, such as Strathfield Radio and other specialised channels as well as via an undisclosed distributor.

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