WAP: not to be outdone
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WAP: not to be outdone
The mobile phone has found its roots even in our so called economically
down-trodden society. This is a valid indication of how important information
is to our lives and how relatively cheap it comes now. It is a startling
revelation of the advancement of IT to remember that just a few years ago,
huge brick-shaped mobile phones that cost a fortune were a status symbol
as much as a fashion statement rather than a communication tool of an elite
The cellular phone itself has evolved drastically to be a wearable device
that not only connects you to telephone networks, but also has inbuilt
address books, games, MP3 players and even Internet browsers. The Internet
has found its way into the cellular phones thanks to WAP. WAP, which stands
for Wireless Application Protocol, has become popular because it is a secure
specification that allows users to access information instantly via handheld
wireless devices such as mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios, smart-phones
and communicators and supports most wireless networks. These include CDPD,
CDMA, GSM, PDC, PHS, TDMA, FLEX, ReFLEX, iDEN, TETRA, DECT, DataTAC, and
WAP enabled devices that use displays and access the Internet run what
are called micro-browsers. They are browsers like Internet Explorer or
Netscape, but with small file sizes that can accommodate the low memory
constraints of handheld devices and the low-bandwidth constraints of a
Although WAP supports HTML and XML, the WML language (an XML application)
is specifically devised for small screens and one-hand navigation without
a keyboard. WML is scalable from two-line text displays up through graphic
screens found on items such as smart phones and communicators. WAP also
on memory and CPU power because it does not contain many of the unnecessary
functions found in other scripting languages.
Will 3G networks obliterate the need for WAP?
Even as bandwidths increase, the cost of that bandwidth does not fall
to zero. These costs result from higher power usage in the terminals, higher
costs in the radio sections, greater use of RF spectrum, and increased
network loading. In addition, the original constraints WAP was designed
for — intermittent coverage, small screens, low power consumption, wide
scalability over bearers and devices, and one-handed operation - are still
valid in 3G networks. Finally, we can expect the bandwidth required by
application users to steadily increase. Therefore, there is still a need
to optimize the device and network resources for wireless environments.
We can expect WAP to optimize support for multimedia applications that
continue to be relevant. If WAP is very successful in mass-markets on 2.5G
networks, 3G networks may be needed purely for capacity relief.
Is WAP secure?
WAP includes a specification called WTLS which implements options for
authentication and encryption. It is optimized for use in the mobile environment.
SSL or Secure Sockets Layer which is widely used in the "web" world to
encrypt the data stream between the browser and the web server is also
used in the WAP environment. However, SSL is only used between the web
server and the WAP gateway. Between the WAP gateway and the WAP device,
a similar system called WTLS or Wireless Transport Layer Security is used.
Although no systems are totally secure, SSL and WTLS on their own provide
adequate security for most applications. However, there is a potential
security problem where the two protocols meet, and that's inside the WAP
SSL is not directly compatible with WTLS, so the WAP gateway must decrypt
the SSL protected data stream coming from the web server and then re-encrypt
it using WTLS before passing the data on to the WAP device. Inside the
memory of the WAP gateway, the data is unprotected.
All the major WAP players are developing solutions to this problem,
but for now these solutions create other problems. Developers of so called
"WAP servers or web servers with WAP gateway capabilities provide end-to-end
security in a way because the data stream leaves the content server (the
"WAP server") already encrypted with WTLS.
However, the mobile operator's WAP gateway can now no longer be part
of the chain, and the user has to reconfigure his WAP device to point to
the "WAP server" which will become the WAP gateway for this session. But,
this WAP gateway only provides access to this one service, and when the
user wants to access his other favourite WAP sites, he has to reconfigure
his phone again.
Get it right with 'Getright'
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I've heard in tech news that new Internet Explorer 6 has dropped java
support (or some features). And I'm also told that full Java support can
only found with IE 5.5 and earlier versions. But I'm using IE6 for several
moths but haven't noticed any difference in Java web pages.