Suppliers slow to move on Wap

Lotus has pioneered new software to allow employees WAP-enabled intranet access in the UK>

Lotus has pioneered new software to allow employees WAP-enabled intranet access in the UK>

What Wap-enabled products can UK firms implement for their staff?

According to the hype, wireless application protocol (Wap) means making your business available to customers via mobile devices anytime, anywhere, writes Caroline Davis.

If this is the case, how about making it available to your employees?

Currently, Lotus is the only major supplier with a Wap-enabled intranet and e-mail product available in the UK.

Announced in April, Domino Everyplace Quick Start allows companies that use Lotus Notes and Domino to link to wireless devices. However, the software is so new that "there are still only a handful of customers in the UK who are piloting it, said a Lotus spokesman.

Novell, with AT&T, demonstrated a beta version of Groupwise Wireless Access at its BrainShare 2000 user conference in March. This, however, is not available in Europe since it uses HDML (handheld devices markup language), which predominates in the US.

Novell is working on a wireless markup language version which will be compatible with European service providers and phones.

Microsoft, by contrast, is at present not promoting wireless services for its e-mail server, Exchange.

A spokesman says Exchange 5.5 does support Wap, but third party software is required to allow users to read e-mail from a mobile device. Exchange 2000, due for release at the end of June, is expected to have Wap services built in using Microsoft's Internet Cellular Smart Access technology.

Netscape has not yet made any official announcements regarding Wap functionality for its products beyond saying it is "looking into it".

A recent report by Forrester has found that about 13% of companies already offer services using Wap.

Caroline Sceats, Forrester analyst and author of the Wap report, said, "Companies are very interested in using mobile devices to help remote workers keep up to date with corporate information, e-mails and contacts."

However, at present, the lack of Wap-enabled corporate e-mail software means that ultimately few companies can be offering these services internally.

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