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Wireless to dominate Net access by 2002

Not sure it's WAP what'll win it, though

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By the end of 2002, more of us will be accessing the Net through a wireless connection than using a land-line, according to IDC. The reason: WAP. By the middle of next year, every cellphone that ships will support the wireless application protocol. And, according to IDC, the sheer volume of Net traffic coming from these devices will slew Internet access in favour of wireless communications. To back up the claim, the company cites the following statistic: while 40 million US households regularly surf the Net, there are as many US pager subscribers again out there, and 75 million cellphone and wireless PDA users too. This may be the case, but having access to the Net doesn't mean you're will use it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while most cellphone users' next (or next-but-one, if Nokia, Ericsson et al, still can't get the things shipping in volume, or indeed working) handset may indeed support WAP, the overwhelming majority of users will continue to use the devices to make voice calls - or send SMS messages, if they're sufficiently young and trendy. We also note the fact that few cellphone vendors support upgrades to the WAP browsers within their phones - that's not to say upgrades can't be made, simply that Nokia and Motorola, to name but two, won't put in place mechanisms to allow them to be upgraded. So there's a very real possibility that advances in WAP will not be followed by the phones. We agree with IDC that wireless is indeed likely to be a major medium for Net access, but until WAP finds its killer app, we reckon the real winners in the immediate future will be the likes of Palm and RMI, the Canadian developer of the Blackberry email-by-pager device and now a Palm VII-style device - producers of kit with screens that you can actually read. ® Related Stories Mobile monsters make m-commerce world domination bid Wap throws up latest bunch of gazillionaires Don't believe the m-commerce hype Text me, Cindy (my Bluetooth baby) The future is bright, the future is wireless

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