WAP phone incompatibility; 3G out to 2004

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 12:57:37 -0700

Man, Andy's doing a great job :-)
I wonder if we'll hear some on-the-ground reports from our FoRK
friends in Geneva...


PS. In other news, today, Motorola+AOL announced AIM support for
2-way pagers and smart phones a year out.

Wireless Carrier Reportedly Admits Mobile Internet Delay
Director of new mobile carrier says third generation mobile networks
won't be ready until 2004
Andy Dornan, Data Communications

An executive at Orange Personal Communications PLC (London)
reportedly said in a speech at Telecom 99 yesterday that third
generation mobile services will be delayed by two years, providing
one of the first public admissions that the technology won't be ready
any time soon.

Show attendees said Colin Tucker, a director of Orange, predicted
that third generation mobile networks would be rolled out in 2004 ---
not by 2002, as previously hoped. Switzerland's third and newest
mobile carrier, Orange does not have a booth at the show, but is
experimenting with WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) services in

Plenty of exhibitors are showing off third generation handsets or
PDAs at Telecom 99, but all of these are non-functional dummies.
Instead, they are showcasing upgrades to existing services, such as
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), which will boost GSM to about 40
kbit/s downstream, and the IS-95b version of cdmaOne, which does the
same for the CDMA (Code Division Multiplex Access) systems popular in
America and Asia.

Even these devices won't be commercially available for about a year.
"We are shipping the infrastructure now," explains Philippe Keryer,
Radio Systems Director at Alcatel SA (Paris), "but we need to ensure
that the terminals are interoperable with other manufacturers'
systems." Users take it for granted that every vendor's GSM phones
work with every other vendor's infrastructure, and they want to
ensure that the same will be true for the new systems.

The same isn't true of WAP, the open standard for accessing web pages
on a handheld device. The services currently on trial by
Switzerland's three mobile networks cannot be accessed by each
others' subscribers. Other vendors have based wireless web access on
proprietary systems, such as the "web clipping" developed by 3Com
Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), or WAP 1.0, a prototype version of the
standard which few companies support.

"The WAP community all agreed that WAP 1.0 is not what we want," says
Joop Trouwee, Telecom Products manager at software company CMG
Telecommunications BV (Utrecht, the Netherlands). Among other
improvements, version 1.1 allows WAP traffic to be carried as SMS
(Short Messaging Service) data. In theory this could allow
subscribers to talk at the same time as they surf the wireless web,
though ironically the only WAP 1.1 phone in use at the show --- the
7000 from Nokia Corp. (Espoo, Finland) --- doesn't support this