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Vicky Nolan

The Wireless Era Has Arrived

18 April 2000

Not too long ago, the Internet was considered cutting edge technology. Now, the next cutting edge technology is arguably wireless application technology, or WAP. Just this year, a number of online gaming companies, such as Lasseters, Littlewoods Leisure, Next Generation Gaming and Ladbrokes have announced plans to take their gaming beyond the Internet and onto WAP.

Part of WAP's appeal can probably due to Europe's less than stellar use of the Internet. There, Internet sites are competing against or working alongside sister sites on digital cable and Web TV, in the quest for consumer's eyeballs.

The quest for speedy Internet access is fueling wireless interest in the U.S. So many corporations and users are demanding high-speed access that both the fiber optics and cable companies can't begin to meet demand. In response, wireless access has grown.

Wireless devices are so hot that International Data Corp predicts all digital cellular/PCS handsets will be WAP-capable by mid-next year. It's conceivable that WAP will surpass the Internet in popularity and use. Indeed, IDC suggest that by 2002, there will be more Internet-enabled wireless device users than wired Internet users.

Wireless Internet access is likely to account for 20-30 percent of all high speed connections, according to Seth Spalding, vice president of research for C.E. Unterburg, Towbin, in a recent LA Times interview. Spalding also suggested that high-speed wireless access could become a $3 billion to $5 billion industry over the next four years.

"Today, Internet sites have to be retrofitted for wireless users, but three years from now, it is conceivable they might have to be redesigned for wired users," predicted Iain Gillot, vice president of IDC's worldwide consumer and small business communications research, in an interview with E-Commerce Times.

Before WAP can succeed, however, there are a few hurdles to overcome. For example, severe rainstorms can disrupt transmissions or tall buildings and trees can break up signals.

Another problem: How are consumers going to pay for their products and services when they're accessing the Internet on their cell phone? Fortunately, a number of credit card and debit card companies have announced work in this area.

Last week, Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola, three of the largest manufacturers of wireless products, jointly announced plans to develop an open and common industry framework for secure mobile electronic transactions, reported E-Commerce Times. With some standards in place and many companies striving to overcome WAP's last few shortcomings; it's pretty easy to see that wireless is the wave of the near future.

Online gaming will inevitably go wireless too. Is your site ready?

You'd better be, or you might be left in the dark ages, alongside a few other relics of bygone eras.

The Wireless Era Has Arrived is republished from
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan