What Is WAP on a Mobile Phone?

Written by lou martin
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What Is WAP on a Mobile Phone?
Most mobile phones on the market in 2011 are equipped with WAP. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Wireless Application Protocol is a secure computer specification which gives users instant access to data using mobile devices, such as smartphones, cellphones and tablet personal computers. WAP technology is compatible with an assortment of wireless networks, including the 2G and 3G networks. WAPs interact with several mobile phone features, such as mobile e-mail and GPS systems.


Mobile phone WAPs, in conjunction with the phone's display screen, accommodate the low memory limitations of handheld devices and the low-bandwidth restrictions of wireless networks, such as 2G and 3G. While WAPs support the HTML and XML content commonly found on the Internet, WML, an XML application, is designed particularly for small screens without a keyboard, such as those found on mobile phones. WAP technology also supports WML Script, which is similar to the Java Script commonly found on larger computers. Because it lacks the unnecessary functions of other scripting languages, WML Script makes minimal demands on memory and CPU power, making it ideal for a mobile phone.


For WAPs to work properly on a mobile phone, a software system known as a WAP gateway must be present on the device. A WAP gateway allows wireless devices, such as mobile phones, to communicate with websites and applications found on the Internet. Most websites recognise when the machine connecting to it is a mobile device and delivers content to the device in WML. When received, WML is delivered to the phone's WAP gateway, where it is translated and resized to fit the device's screen accordingly.


As of the date of publication, most mobile phones, such as the HTC EVO 4G, feature Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi technology allows a mobile phone to connect wirelessly to the Internet through a wireless router. Wi-Fi technology interfaces with WAP technology on mobile phones, acting as a mediator between the Internet and the WAP. WAPs give other mobile phone applications access to data that's needed for the application to run properly.

Messaging and GPS

Many mobile phones, such as the Samsung Vibrant, support text, video, voice and photo messages and mobile e-mail through connections to SMTP, POP3 and IMAP4 servers. Each of these message types and mobile e-mail servers interact with WAPs to deliver and send content. Many phones, including the Motorola Droid 2, come with a built-in assisted-GPS system that uses satellite and cellular tower signals to provide navigational functionality. The Droid 2's A-GPS system comes with a location-based services feature that gives contact information for nearby emergency and commercial services, such as restaurants, hotels and police stations. The A-GPS relies on the WAP to deliver LBS data.

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