Mobile phones get Internet functionality

A prototype has been launched for a mobile phone that provides direct Internet access.

Mobile phone makers are working with the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) to produce a phone that doesn't need a notebook, hand-held computer or any other terminal device, as information is displayed on the phone's screen.

Malcom Bird, managing director of Unwired Planet, one of the co-founders of the WAP forum, explained: "We are not trying to get a mobile phone to surf the net, we are just sending Internet services through the phone." Users will be able to pay bills and find web addresses as well as accessing other information by selecting different menus on the phone's screen.

Matra Communications is working in close cooperation with Unwired Planet and initial pilots are planned for the summer using several WAP solutions scheduled for 1999. Bird confirmed the phones would cost no more than ordinary mobiles.

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