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A WAP Primer

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Déjà Vu

To cope with the unique problems of mobile Internet access, a number of proprietary solutions have emerged that are reminiscent of the pre-Internet era when bulletin boards were the primary mode of network connectivity. Today, most wireless connectivity solutions rely on device-specific, custom client development and a proprietary server at a central provider's site. One example is Short Message Service (SMS), a popular European wireless solution that provides two-way messaging and data access applications. Another is Phone.com's Unwired Planet architecture, which makes use of a proprietary markup language (HDML) in order to provide thin client access to Phone.com's browser and gateway server. Similarly, Palm Computing's Web-Clipping applications rely on an installed client and a connection to a Palm server to deliver filtered Internet content. Although these solutions work, none deliver on the promise of flexible, ubiquitous mobile Internet access. Only SMS has become a de facto standard, but is limited by very short messages and a complex infrastructure. Clearly, what is needed is a way to provide everything that SMS, Web Clipping, and HDML offer, but by using technology that builds on existing standards. This is where WAP comes in.

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