What is Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)?

By Techfunnel Author - Published on November 3, 2021
Wireless Application Protocol

Early mobile phones could access the Internet using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which is an old standard. WAP Gateway identifies the device that is connected to the Internet and formats the content sent to the device for the screen size and type.

The software was cumbersome, frequently failed to render the screen correctly, and was no longer in use.

Four companies created this standard: Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia, and Unwired Planet. Newer cell phones can access the Internet in a similar way to desktop and laptop computers, so this protocol is no longer needed.

What is Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)?

The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a packet-switching protocol that is used to access wireless data over most mobile wireless networks. In addition to facilitating instant communication between interactive wireless devices and the Internet, WAP enhances wireless specification interoperability.

WAP operates within an open environment, and it can be created on any type of operating system. It is the preferred method of delivering information to mobile users.

With the WAP cascading style sheet (CSS), developers can format screen sizes so that they will work on any mobile device. The use of WAP CSS ensures compatibility with a range of mobile device display screens, so re-formatting is not necessary.

The WAP datagram protocol is the core interface of WAP architecture, which manages the transfer layer protocols of Internet models and facilitates communications between mobile wireless networks and platforms independent of upper-layer protocols.

Wireless global operations can easily access wireless gateways through the transport layer, which deals with physical network issues. WAP gateways are servers that allow access to wireless networks.

In addition to testing WAP tools and developing specifications, the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) provides support for all mobile services.

How the WAP works

The WAP protocol suite describes a set of protocols. This standard allows for interoperability between WAP equipment, such as mobile phones using the protocol, and WAP software, such as web browsers and network technologies.

The standards enhance mobile experiences that were previously limited by wireless networks and handheld devices.

WAP accomplishes this by:

  • Pages can be sent via WAP in the WML format
  • Standards such as XML, UDP, and IP are efficient for wireless environments but lack a large amount of data, such as HTML, HTTP, and TLS
  • Enables greater data compression by using binary transmission
  • By utilizing a lightweight protocol stack, high latency, low connection stability, and low bandwidth can be achieved

WAP Model and Layers

In the WAP model, clients and servers communicate with an additional WAP gateway acting as an intermediary between them. The gateway converts WAP device requests sent by a microbrowser into HTTP URL requests that are sent over the internet.

WAP gateways take the response from the server and convert it to a WML file that can be read by micro browsers on the mobile device.

Why Use WAP?

In 1999, WAP was introduced as a way for wireless network operators, content providers, and end-users to benefit from:

  • Operators of wireless networks and mobile phones 

    With WAP, wireless data services such as voicemail can be improved, while new mobile applications can also be developed. Neither phone modifications nor additional infrastructure changes are required.

  • Content providers

    WAP makes it possible for third-party application developers to exploit additional applications and mobile phone functionality. Developers can create effective mobile applications by writing applications in WML.

  • End users

    Those who own mobile phones are said to benefit from easy and secure access to online services, such as banking, entertainment, messaging, as well as other information. Access to corporate databases and business applications via WAP was also intended for intranet information.

    Despite these benefits, WAP did not achieve wide adoption in many countries, and its use declined markedly around 2010, as mobile phones became more HTML compatible.

Benefits of WAP

The following are some of the advantages of Wireless Application Protocol or WAP:

  • WAP is a technology that moves very quickly
  • The technology is open-source and completely free
  • Multiple platforms can be used to implement it
  • Network standards are not relevant to it
  • Higher control options are available
  • Modeled after the Internet, it is implemented similarly
  • Real-time data can be sent/received using WAP
  • WAP is supported by the majority of modern mobile phones and devices

Disadvantages of WAP

Here are some disadvantages of Wireless Application Protocol:

  • In WAP, the connection speed is slow, and the availability is limited
  • Internet access is very sparse in some areas, and in some other areas, it is completely unavailable
  • The system is less secure
  • User interfaces (UI) are small in WAP

WAP Protocol Stack

Specifically, it describes the different layers of communications and data transmission associated with the WAP model:

1. Application Layer 

WML is a programming language that is used for content development and contains the Wireless Application Environment (WAE) and mobile device specs.

2. Session Layer 

Wireless Session Protocol (WSP) represents the session layer. Wireless sessions are suspended and reconnected quickly using WSP.

3. Transaction Layer 

WTP (Wireless Transaction Protocol) and user datagram protocol (UDP) make up the transaction layer. Transaction support is provided by this layer of TCP/IP.

4. Security Layer

During data transmission, it provides data integrity, privacy, and authentication through Wireless Transaction Layer Security (WTLS).

5. Transport Layer

The Wireless Datagram Protocol (WDP) is part of this layer. The WAP protocol stack benefits from a consistent data format.

WAP Primarily for Web Content

In essence, WAP is an application for delivering Web content over wireless networks, which are characterized by low speeds and variable latency. Currently, the memory limitations of handheld wireless devices prevent caching from being very effective in reducing the amount of information downloaded.

Future of WAP

Within WAP Forum, multimedia mobile services are a current area of interest. Open protocols, WAP v1.1 and v1.2 enable the transport of many types of multimedia content. Nevertheless, there is still a need for further enhancements to WAP for some multimedia services, particularly those utilizing streaming media.

While reading this, the next round of auctions for mobile phone licenses is underway. As a new mobile phone network is formed, the role of WAP is set to grow, as there will be more bandwidth available and the ability to support high data transfer rates.

It is already possible to use WAP with new mobile networks but expect to see the capability of WAP expanded to support color graphics, live and recorded streaming video and sound – in particular, television services transmitted directly to mobile phones.

Final Thoughts 

The WAP is a programming model or application environment and set of communication protocols based on the concept of the World Wide Web. The WAP hierarchical design is remarkably similar to that of the TCP/IP protocol stack.

However, WAP was not widely adopted in many countries, and its use declined significantly in the 2010s as HTML compatibility spread across mobile phones.

Techfunnel Author | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicated to sharing unbiased information, research, and expert commentary that helps executives and professionals stay on top of the rapidly evolving marketplace, leverage technology for productivity, and add value to their knowledge base.

Techfunnel Author | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicate...

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