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FAQ

1. What is WAP?
WAP, is short for Wireless Application Protocol? So what does that mean! Well, basically it is a method of letting a wireless device, usually a mobile phone, to view Internet pages, using text only, and very simple black and white pictures. Naturally, it isn't quite as simple as that, the web site has to be specially designed for the WAP phone, and the pages have to be fairly small as the data speed on mobile phones is a lot slower than a domestic modem. Also, all the phones will have different shape and size screens, so pages will look different depending on the phone your are using.

2. What is WML?
WML, or Wireless Markup Language is the language that WAP sites are written in. Fortunately, it is very similar to the HTML language used to write ordinary web sites. Naturally, there are some differences, as it is very simple, no nested tables, very basic font control, and the pages have to be quite small so that they do not take ages to download. To get technical for a moment, WML, is a part of the new XML language which is being developed to make web sites more interactive and easier to design, but that honestly doesn't actually affect you if you want to write a WML page.

3. How long is WAP going to be around?
Well, that is a difficult one. Firstly, while it is true that mobile phone data speeds will get faster, that will take several years to begin, and even then not every one will upgrade to the new systems. So, on that premise, WAP will be around for a minimum of four years, which in the Internet world, is a massively long time! Also, web browsers for the PC, such as the one your are using now, will soon come with the ability to view WAP pages, so you won't even need a WAP enabled mobile phone. Opera are already about to release such a browser. And finally, it doesn't cost a lot to put WAP into a mobile phone, and prices are falling all the time, so it is expected that by the third quarter of this year, almost all new mobile phones sold, will be WAP enabled.

4. How do I build a WAP site?

There are several ways; the easiest is to use the free WAP Builder on this web site. We will host your WAP site for you, and you don't need to learn any WML language to build a site, just type in the text you want to appear on the phone display. Another method is to write the WAP page yourself, and you can get away with just plain old Notepad and write them with that, just like web pages used to be written, before Dreamweaver and FrontPage came along. If you download a WAP toolkit though, you can test your pages on your PC, before uploading them to your web site. Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Phone.com all have developer packages that you could use. Once you have created a WAP page, you will need to upload it to a web host that will deliver WAP pages, and not all do. We at WAPDrive.net have an FTP service, so you can design your WAP pages on your PC, and upload them to our servers, where we will host them for free on your behalf.


5. How do WAP phones connect to a WAP site?
Each WAP phone needs to connect to what is known as a WAP gateway. These are computer boxes that act as the doorway between you and the Internet. Usually, your mobile phone company will have a gateway, but other companies are coming with their own ones, we have a list of WAP gateways on this web site for you to try out. Some mobile phone companies will only let you visit sites that they approve of, which is why independent gateways are a good idea. But back to technicalities… when you visit a WAP site, your phone sends a request to the WAP gateway. That then sends a request to the WAP site for the page you want to view, when the WAP gateway has a copy of the page, it compresses it and sends it back to your phone, where it is expanded and displayed. As with the normal Internet, the speed is often down to how busy the site is, and how busy the Internet is in general. The gateways also vary in how good they are at compressing a page. As some phones might reject a page that is too large, you can sometimes end up with the odd situation that a page will work on one gateway or phone, but not on another, if the WAP page is getting close to the size limit.

6. I need to know more, where can I find it?
There are lots of good sites that can tell you more about WAP, if you click on the LINKS icon at the top of this page, you a find some there, but the main one is going to be… WAPForum - the governing body for WAP

7. I want to try some WAP sites before I commit to buying a phone?
No problem. We have a WAP simulator on this site. Go to the WAP Directory, and have a hunt for a WAP site that interests you, and when you click on the link, a little window will pop open, with a WAP simulator in it, and you can then view that WAP site immediately.

8. What can I put on a WAP site?
Well, anything you want, just like a normal web site can have anything you want, legal of course! One of the great things about WAP is that you can view your WAP site while walking down the high street. There are WAP sites that people have set up with anything as mundane as their daily shopping list, to a full use of the Phone Contacts service on WAPDrive, instead of the phones own memory. Again, by putting the contacts onto a WAP site, you can use any phone to access the names and phone numbers, but also, you could use the Wapaliser on this site to view them from any PC.

9. Can I use a different WAP gateway to the one supplied by my phone company?
Yes, is the simple answer. Some phone companies may restrict what WAP sites you can visit, so an independent WAP gateway is a useful thing to have. Also, by using a mobile phone company's own WAP gateway, your first page will always be their home page, while some independent gateways let you choose your home page. We have a list of the gateways that we know about on this web site. You will need to refer to your phone instructions for details of setting them up. Some gateways are only available to registered users, and that is logical, as they don't charge you for using their equipment. One point to note, is that the independent gateways may not always be as reliable as the one provided by your phone company. This is simply because the phone company is able to spend huge sums on the gateway, as they get an income from your phone calls, the independent gateways do not have that luxury.

10. Is it just text or can I use pictures?
Yes, you can use pictures, but black and white only. Well, actually as most mobile phones have a green background, it is technically black and green! The restriction is twofold; firstly there are very few mobile phones that have colour displays anyway. However, the main reason, is speed, as stated before, the data speed of a mobile phone is quite slow compared to a domestic modem, so pictures take a while to download. Keeping them simple will reduce the amount of time it takes to download them. Don't be deterred though, one of the first ever applications of WAP was on the Paris metro, to offer maps to WAP enabled phones. Some idea of how good a WAP image to display a map can be is below. The maps come from www.webraska.com


11. What types of networks support WAP?
One of the great things about WAP is that it is very easy to use it on almost any wireless format. Currently WAP is being used by both GSM, CDMA and TDMA cellular phone networks. Most people talk about WAP as a GSM standard, but that is only due to the high usage of WAP by the GSM networks. Naturally, the mobile phone network has to enable WAP on their service, but a lot of them are doing so. WAP can also be ported to other wireless formats, notably DECT, the format for European domestic cordless phones, which is being used in a lot of offices, and also the new TETRA format, which is a digital version of the radios carried around by security staff and haulage personnel. TETRA is another European standard, but it has been adopted or approved for use in a lot of other parts of the world, including the USA.

12. Is WAP secure?
Well, it depends on what you are trying to do. For day to day use, then WAP is as secure as the mobile phone standard that your phone works on. As that will be probably be GSM, CDMA or TDMA, it is basically very secure against eavesdropping. If your were interested in m-commerce, buying plane tickets, for example, over a WAP phone, then it is fairly secure. The signal from your phone to the WAP gateway, and from the WAP gateway is totally secure, as secure as a normal e-commerce web site. However, there is a moment at the WAP gateway, about a third of a second, when the information is not encrypted, and in theory, the owners of the WAP gateway could print off your information. From a banks point of view, that is not secure enough, but for day to day use, giving your credit card details to a WAP site should not be any more of a problem than handing it over to a waiter in a restaurant.

13. Can a phone number in a WAP page be dialed by the phone?
This is a "sort-of". In theory, yes a phone number that is embedded into a WAP page, can then be dialed by the phone user, without having to type it in again. However, each phone has a different way of implementing this so we would steer clear of this at the moment until the standards are set in stone.

14. How big can a WAP page be?
In technical terms, the largest a WML page should be 1400 bytes when compiled. Compiled, is when it is compressed by the WAP gateway for sending to the mobile phone. The gateways though vary in how well they compile a WML page, so if your page is close to the limit, then you may occasionally find that it doesn't work on some gateways, or even some phones. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward solution, just test and test again, until you are sure your page is working.

15. I just brought a WAP phone, but cannot view any sites?
There could be a few reasons for that. Firstly, have you or the company that sold you the phone, set up the WAP gateway in the phone? You will need to check with the phone manual to check how to do that. If the gateway was not set-up, you would be advised to contact your provider, as they may need to set it up at their end as well. Another one is to check that you typed in the WAP page address, not the normal web page address, as most, but not all, WAP addresses are different to the web address. Finally, the phone has to be able to send and receive data, as well as the usual voice calls. Not all networks actually enable that service when you buy the phone, so you may need to contact them to double check that you can send data.

16. I want to use the same address for both my WAP and web sites
Actually there are several ways of doing this. One of the easiest is to set up a doorway to your site, using a free redirect service. A good one is from www.come.to as they are one of the only ones to be WAP enabled. With them, you are given an address, such as www.come.to/mywebsite and visitors to that address will be directed to either the WAP or HTML page address automatically. Best thing with this service, is that if your change your web site address, all you have to do is change the divert address that the come.to name will divert to. If you are hosting the WAP site yourself, then it is technical, but basically you need to set up the server to look for a PHP, CGI or ASP program instead of the usual index.html file, and for that program to divert to a WML or HTML page. It is very techie, so we can't really go into it here. Sorry.

17. I hear that Japan is not using WAP, why?
Japan is in a unique position; its phone system is not compatible with any of the systems used in the rest of the world. With this in mind they developed their own wireless Internet service called iMode. However, it is totally incompatible with WAP, but its incredible success was fired up the imagination of other countries that are developing WAP, so WAP will really take off, thanks in part to a totally incompatible service!

18. Can I use JavaScript on my WAP pages?
No, JavaScript will not work on WAP phones. There is a cut down version, called WMLScript that will work; however, it is beyond the scope of this page to go into detail about its workings, sorry. We hope to have a section on WAPDrive that will explain how to use WMLScript in the near future. However, after registering with Phone.com's Developer site, you may access their reference to WMLScript at http://updev.phone.com/dev/ts/beta/docs/wmlscript/

19. Will a non-WAP phone ever be able to display WAP pages?
You are probably thinking, no way! Actually, it will be possible. The companies that manufacture the SIM cards used in GSM and TDMA phones are working on a new SIM based WAP browser. It won't be as fully featured as a normal WAP phone, but it will offer a basic WAP service. As most phones will be WAP enabled by the end of the year, within two years, we would expect that to die out, but it does offer a cheap way of getting the WAP service if you did not want to change your phone.

20. The Siemens s25 is WAP compatible, but I cannot see my pages
The Siemens phone was released with the original WAP1.0 standard, which was logical as the WAP standard we use today, WAP1.1 had not been released yet. All the new phones that have come out use WAP1.1 and the Siemens phone has actually been discontinued for some time now. It would be best to consider upgrading the phone if you want to use WAP on a regular basis. Sorry.