ISPs not ready to meet users' Wap needs

Lack of support for the Wireless Application Protocol (Wap) among ISPs is holding back users who plan to take advantage of the...

Lack of support for the Wireless Application Protocol (Wap) among ISPs is holding back users who plan to take advantage of the technology, writes Antony Savvas

Firms that rely on an ISP to host their Web sites on external servers could find that the technical changes to the servers have not been completed, frustrating the potential to win new business via Wap mobile Internet phones.

Computer Weekly reader Brod Pitt-Steele wanted to host Wap Web pages through ISP Globalnet. However, Globalnet told him that it was not ready to provide this service - despite heavily promoting its Web-hosting service to companies on its Web site.

Pitt-Steele says, "From my experience, the changes you need to make to the server probably only take about 10 minutes, so I was surprised at Globalnet's response."

Globalnet's sales support told Computer Weekly that it could not give a date when a Wap service would be offered. This lack of preparedness exists despite the sale of Wap phones in the UK standing at well over 500,000 and rapidly approaching one million, following extensive marketing campaigns.

Pitt-Steele says, "A colleague contacted Demon, and was also told that it did not support Wap." Demon has an estimated 200,000 customers in the UK, and claims most of them are business users.

Demon technical support told Computer Weekly that it had just completed a major network overhaul, in which Wap services had not been a priority. Demon is expected to offer a Wap-hosting service some time this year.

But the fact that major ISP names are not ready now may surprise companies who do have their own servers from which to offer Internet sites direct to mobile phones.

Those ISPs that have not yet got their servers ready can take advantage of the facilities offered by the huge server farm run by Planet Online.

The Planet sales office said that ISPs such as Demon and Globalnet were customers, and could take advantage of its Wap-enabled servers.

The Wap gap

  • Companies wanting to take advantage of mobile Internet access have to use either their own configured servers or rely on an ISP

  • The server has to be configured to convert information into the Wireless Mark-up Language (WML) to be read by Wireless Application Protocol (Wap)-enabled mobile phones

  • Not all ISPs have servers ready to do this, meaning potentially lost business for their customers with Wap strategies.

  • Read more on Wireless networking