It comes as no surprise that WAP has been voted the best technology trend.
- By Spencer Ng
Singapore, 9 June 2000 - And just to make sure that CommunicAsia 2000 ends off with a joke, WAP gets to lift the most over-hyped trend award as well.
Afterall, how can you have a trend without having its detractors? There is nothing like a good face-off between the trumpet blowers and the wet blankets to make the object of debate even more popular.
WAP has a few problems, firstly, the transport bearer infrastructure used right now is circuit switched data (CSD) and the problem with this is a need for speed as a result of a 30-40 second delay between the WAP client and gateway.
Secondly, although there are people who say that once GPRS arrives in 2001 the market will start to pick up, detractors might object by saying that the GPRS speed of 171.2Kbps is only theoretical. According to Anders Lindqvist, a senior partner at Northstream AB of Sweden, after all the congestion is taken into account, the actual speed might only be between 20-30Kbps.
But the good thing is that rather than paying for Internet air-time, you only pay for packets of data sent to you when you request for it. The potential savings could be one of the possible reasons why wireless Internet might indeed take off and eventually fulfil predictions that the wireless Internet will surpass fixed line Internet connection in 2005.
In fact, the question should not be whether or not WAP is hype, it probably is, but rather, the question should be: when will the hype play itself into reality?
If you are a businessman, you better start thinking now, because according to Lindqvist, you will face problems like how to migrate your existing subscribers from CSD and SMS to GPRS, cannibalization of sales of old technology as it gets phased out by GPRS and lastly, the question of whether to subsidize 3G compliant handsets in the market for the initial period in order to spark demand.
As it stands right now, “Japan is expected to introduce 3G in 2001, followed by Europe and the rest of Asia in 2002.” Said Lindqvist.
And don’t be surprised if companies are willing to pay a premium for keeping pace with the progression of Mobile Internet. According to a study done by Forrester research among 50 European e-commerce executives, the top three benefits of Mobile Internet include retention of existing customers, generation of incremental revenue and attraction of new customers.
Once, GPRS rolls out, get ready for the EDGE which is a higher bandwidth enhancement of GPRS, allowing transmission speeds of up to 384Kbps (lets wait and see) and mobile multimedia applications.
After that, 3G technology such as UMTS – Universal Mobile Telephone System will offer speeds of up to (you better hold on to your seat or you might just fall off the edge here) 2Mbps, enabling data to be processed 200 times faster than current speeds. This development is planned to be available in Europe from 2003.
Wireless communication, for all the hype, appears to be the way to go, that is, if our expectations are shown to be justified.