Forget the WAP Wobbles

Forget the WAP wobbles. Jump on the mobile Internet horse and get rockin', says Claus Hansen director of mobile communications at Schlumberger. "Get on with it. Attract quality content and start to educate your subscribers towards data."

The horse, of course he wants you to ride uses smartcard technology from his company and others from a group of otherwise competing manufacturers called the SIMalliance.

Working against him is recent rises in the price of smartcards due to an inability to meet burgeoning demand from Asian countries. He says "operators [in Asia] have been forced to cancel promotional campaigns because of the shortage."

Schlumberger manufacturers smartcards and SIM cards and offers SIM Toolkit (STK) technology for secure transactions as well as software for delivering WAP content to standard mobile phones.

Hansen maintains WAP phones are around 5 per cent of the market and won't reach 50 per cent of the world market until 2003. In the meantime, he says, a smartcard can house a browser that adapts content for the smaller than WAP screen size. The smartcard can also hold the necessary encryption and PKI technology for secure mobile e-commerce. He says 70 to 80 per cent of mobile phones in current use are STK enabled.

Hansen says the first problem with WAP today is the lack of security. "WAP 1.1 doesn't handle encryption or digital certificate. So mobile commerce in the WAP environment can't happen."

WAP 1.2 has support for WIMs (WAP identity modules) that handle security. The WIM module resides on a smartcard and handles encryption and digital signatures, says Hansen.

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