Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a technical standard for accessing information over a mobile wireless network. A WAP browser is a web browser for mobile devices such as mobile phones (called "cellular phones" in some countries) that uses the protocol.
Before the introduction of WAP, mobile service providers had limited opportunities to offer interactive data services, but needed interactivity to support Internet and Web applications such as:
Email by mobile phone
Tracking of stock-market prices
The Japanese i-mode system offers another major competing wireless data protocol.
The WAE space defines application-specific markup languages.
For WAP version 1.X, the primary language of the WAE is Wireless Markup Language (WML). In WAP 2.0, the primary markup language is XHTML Mobile Profile.
WAP Push was incorporated into the specification to allow WAP content to be pushed to the mobile handset with minimum user intervention. A WAP Push is basically a specially encoded message which includes a link to a WAP address.
WAP Push was specified on top of WAP Datagram Protocol (WDP); as such, it can be delivered over any WDP-supported bearer, such as GPRS or SMS. Most GSM networks have a wide range of modified processors, but GPRS activation from the network is not generally supported, so WAP Push messages have to be delivered on top of the SMS bearer.
On receiving a WAP Push, a WAP 1.2 (or later) -enabled handset will automatically give the user the option to access the WAP content. This is also known as WAP Push SI (Service Indication). A variant, known as WAP Push SL (Service Loading), directly opens the browser to display the WAP content, without user interaction. Since this behaviour raises security concerns, some handsets handle WAP Push SL messages in the same way as SI, by providing user interaction.
The network entity that processes WAP Pushes and delivers them over an IP or SMS Bearer is known as a Push Proxy Gateway (PPG).
A re-engineered 2.0 version was released in 2002. It uses a cut-down version of XHTML with end-to-end HTTP, dropping the gateway and custom protocol suite used to communicate with it. A WAP gateway can be used in conjunction with WAP 2.0; however, in this scenario, it is used as a standard proxy server. The WAP gateway's role would then shift from one of translation to adding additional information to each request. This would be configured by the operator and could include telephone numbers, location, billing information, and handset information.
Mobile devices process XHTML Mobile Profile (XHTML MP), the markup language defined in WAP 2.0. It is a subset of XHTML and a superset of XHTML Basic. A version of cascading style sheets (CSS) called WAP CSS is supported by XHTML MP.
Marketers hyped WAP at the time of its introduction, leading users to expect WAP to have the performance of fixed (non-mobile) Internet access. BT Cellnet, one of the UK telecoms, ran an advertising campaign depicting a cartoon WAP user surfing through a Neuromancer-like "information space". In terms of speed, ease of use, appearance and interoperability, the reality fell far short of expectations when the first handsets became available in 1999. This led to the wide usage of sardonic phrases such as "Worthless Application Protocol", "Wait And Pay", and so on.
Critics advanced several explanations for the early failure of WAP, possibly[original research?] not realizing that it was a United Kingdom product which had to comply with the laws of European nations. An example is the requirement to utilize an ITU message-type that is specific to the French language with appropriate character conversions being deployed by the WAP message transmit-and-receive software.
Between 2003 and 2004 WAP made a stronger resurgence with the introduction of wireless services (such as Vodafone Live!, T-Mobile T-Zones and other easily-accessible services). Operator revenues were generated by transfer of GPRS and UMTS data, which is a different business model than that used by the traditional Web sites and ISPs. According to the Mobile Data Association, WAP traffic in the UK doubled from 2003 to 2004.
Today[when?] WAP use has largely disappeared. All modern handsets support full HTML, and do not use any kind of WAP markup. The list of handsets supporting HTML is extensive, and includes all Android handsets, all Blackberry devices, all versions of the iPhone handset, all devices running Windows Phone, and many Nokia handsets. WAP has not been the mainstream technology for web on mobile for a number of years.
Unlike in Europe, WAP has seen huge success in Japan. While the largest operator NTT DoCoMo has famously disdained WAP in favor of its in-house system i-mode, rival operators KDDI (au) and SoftBank Mobile (previously Vodafone Japan) have both successfully deployed WAP technology. In particular, J-Phone's Sha-Mail picture mail and Java (JSCL) services, as well as (au)'s chakuuta/chakumovie (ringtone song/ringtone movie) services are based on WAP. After being shadowed by the initial success of i-mode, the two smaller Japanese operators have been gaining market share from DoCoMo since Spring 2001.
The adoption of WAP in the US suffered because many cell phone providers required separate activation and additional fees for data support, and also because telecommunications companies have sought to limit data access to only approved data providers operating under license of the signal carrier.
In recognition of the problem, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order on 31 July 2007 which mandated that licensees of the 22-megahertz wide "Upper 700 MHz C Block" spectrum will have to implement a wireless platform which allows customers, device manufacturers, third-party application developers, and others to use any device or application of their choice when operating on this particular licensed network band.