Logica Challenges WAP

U.K.-based Logica, a consultancy and systems integrator working with Japanese partners to develop PCS/GSM/CDMA hybrid products, has launched m-WorldGate, a worldwide cHTML gateway. The move represents a direct challenge to WAP (Wireless Access Protocol).

Frank Eastaughffe, head of Logica's mobile Internet business, says that mobile operators should have the chance to future-proof their mobile Internet strategies instead of being tied to one particular technology. "We made a very clear and conscious decision when launching the m-WorldPortal to make sure that it could handle a number of different markup languages."

cHTML, a subset of HTML that allows content providers to develop applications without relying on WML-based WAP converters, hasn't received much attention in WAP-oriented Europe, but the story is different in Japan. More than 15,000 cHTML Web sites have been designed specifically for Japan, and many other non-Japanese Internet sites are accessible via i-mode. cHTML handsets in Japan support such features as color graphics, animated GIFs and polyphonic MIDI ring-tone download. Support for Java and 128-bit SSL encryption is on the way.

Paul Rogers, Managing Director of Logica Japan, points out that "Japan represents the world's largest and most advanced mobile Internet market, with over 11 million regular users. We have all watched the remarkable success of Japanese carriers such as NT DoCoMo, who use compacted forms of HTML to allow unmodified Internet sites to be presented on mobile phones."

Logica claims that the Japanese approach to the mobile Internet has proven itself, from both a business and a technology standpoint. The company also says handsets capable of supporting an industry variant of cHTML on CDMA and GSM/GPRS networks will be commercially available at the end of this year.