WAP: Do We Really Need This?

Dale Amon

In answer to Vin's posting, I would say you are correct... for the short run. However I see thing moving in a very different direction, and in fact I am part of that direction.

WAP is a method of getting information quickly to people using a Cell phone. The characteristics of a cell phone are *currently*:

To overuse McLuhan once again, the media is the message. WAP aims at requiring minimal key strokes to get information, to use minimal bandwidth and thus minimize charges, and to display it in a form that fits the available display area.

I contend that all of those characteristics are a temporary accident of history and technology that present WAP with an equally temporary market niche.

Phone charges are artificially high; much has to do with the centralization and the high fees paid for telecom licenses in places like the UK, requirements that provide a high and absolutely mercantilist barrier to entry. ie, the state makes a load of dosh by charging an exorbitant rate for companies to be allowed to provide a service.

Unfortuneately that whole model is about to get blown to hades and back.

The developments in wireless IP are allowing high bandwidth private links at prices that just keep dropping. I can now provide 11 MB/S over 6 km point to point for only a couple thousand... a one time fee. That includes the IP bridging.

Other developments from Lucent are about to cause the laptop to go aroaming. I played with a pair of their units in Manhattan last year. Little cards stuck in the slot where you have your etherport usually, and that look just like ethercards to the laptop software.

We took one laptop out about 2 blocks in Midtown Manhattan before the signal became unreliable. And that was just a link between two personal laptops.

IP roaming over city wide areas is not too far away. It might come like the cell phone net with companies putting up base stations... if it is unregulated. If it is regulated, I think you will find that individual people will be able to do quite nicely without a fixed infrastructure.

And the bandwidths are way more than enough to allow H323... that is voice over IP to PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Networks). This area is moving faster now that it is starting to appear in the Linux world.

The difficulty in many places is that regulations say that if you connect IP to PSTN, you are a phone company and you owe the government X million pounds.

Hmmm. Right. So Joe Bloggs IP phones a portal in the US, or elsewhere and connects in there. Or via IP to a ship out in the Irish Sea or the Atlantic... or Susie Bloggs sets up a secret portal over her phone line and bills her other teenage friends for their party line usage.

If you're the state telecoms regulator, you lose. Sorry bout that chief. Find another job... there's loads of them these days anyway.

Now what does this mean for WAP? Simple. Within a couple years the preference will be for a belt loop computer with a small infrared or wireless connected keypad, with the clip on mike/earphones that are already popular, plus the retinal imaging projectors that some persons are already using. So we get voice over IP on microwave with full colour, high speed access to audio and video, full web browsing, full use of VR, and the ability to walk all over town while doing it. For hands free you use voice recognition. My wireless phone already does that. Same will work for access of basic apps seen in your retinal projection. And keypads can be small and useable; look at the Nokia.

Now, what did you say I need WAP for?

This article has appeared in Online Europe.