Perhaps the most important factor in the birth of Wireless Internet has been the immense growth of wireless phones in the last few years.With digital wireless networks expanding at record pace, a solid foundation for Wireless Internet services was established.

In 1997, Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, and came together to create the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) because they believed a universal standard was critical to the successful implementation of the Wireless Internet. WAP uses Wireless Markup Language (WML), which includes the Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML) developed by (now called OpenWave after their merger with

The wireless phones are also equipped with a piece of software called a micro-browser, which is analogous to the Web browser you use to access the Internet from your home or work PC.The micro-browser allows you either to enter a Web address or to click on a page link, which will then bring you to that page.

Most wireless phones have data transfer rates of 14.4 kbps or less. Compared to a typical home PC 56 kbps modem, cable modem, or DSL connection (100 kbps+), wireless speeds are much slower.Wireless Internet content is typically text-based, so the time it takes to download content is less than if the page were loaded with graphics.

And although you don’t get the graphical beauty of the Internet, you are able to gain access to the information that matters to you most, while on the go. The relatively small size of the liquid crystal display (LCD) on a wireless phone certainly presents another challenge.

Most Web sites are designed for a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels, which is ideal for viewing on a desktop or laptop computer.The page simply will not fit on wireless phone displays, which average 150 by 150 pixels.

Also, the majority of wireless devices use monochromatic screens. Pages are more difficult to read when the text and background colors become similar shades of gray.WAP takes each of these limitations into account and provides a way for pages to be displayed for optimal viewing capabilities on a wireless phone screen.

New applications are being developed to allow more graphics to be downloaded onto wireless phones. Given the limitations of the phone screen, the normal graphics you are used to will not appear on your phone.

Some phones and wireless services can accept wireless bitmap pictures (WBMP), which offer a taste of things to come in the delivery of images to wireless phones, albeit not a high resolution, full-color animated picture like you’d see on your home computer.

There are many steps involved in accessing a Web page through your wireless phone:

1. The handset establishes a connection with its base station.

2. Once this connection is set up, the micro-browser initiates a connection to a WAP gateway predefined in the phone’s configuration.

3. The micro-browser requests a URL from the WAP gateway. This is done via a compact binary encoded request.

4. The gateway translates this request into an HTTP request, and sends it over the wired Internet to the specified content server.

5. The content server responds by sending a page of WML content, which may also contain WMLScript (similar to JavaScript), and special graphics in WBMP format.

6. The gateway compresses the response into a special binary format optimized for low-bandwidth networks, and then sends it back to the micro-browser. It also compiles any WMLScript found in the response.

7. The micro-browser decodes the compressed signal and attempts to display it, if possible.

Don’t worry if this seems like too much information—there are many steps involved in getting information from the Web to your small wireless phone screen. Each step along the way may vary slightly based on the kind of content you are requesting and the kind of phone you are using.

As the Wireless Internet matures, there will be fewer steps that vary from the wired Internet, thus allowing any device to access the online information in virtually the same way.

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