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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 12:40 GMT
Mobile net use proving popular
Mobile phone keypad, BBC
Phones are being used for much more than just talk
Slowly but surely, British mobile phone owners are starting to use the net while on the move.

Over 11 million webpages are being looked at via phones every day according to figures collated by the Mobile Data Association.

The industry group says the figures are the first comprehensive study of mobile net use and it intends to repeat the research regularly to chart increases.

The association puts the steady growth of use down to strategy and technology changes by operators which try to make it much easier for customers to browse pages.

Page turner

The most popular pages that people look at cover sport and news as well as net messaging and chat services.

The MDA estimates that in September, the last month for which figures are available, 340 million webpages were viewed via mobiles phones.

The small screen, slow network and limited processing power of a phone means that most cannot view webpages in all the glory they appear online.

Instead, many operators use software called the Wireless Application Protocol (Wap) to shrink pages to a size and format suitable for a phone.

Wap was launched to much hype but failed to live up to the expectations of customers and the operators.

Rather than let people discover the delights of Wap for themselves, many operators pre-load a series of bookmarks on a phone that direct people to particular sites.

New technologies, such as General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), mean that Wap and webpages load much quicker, making them less of a chore to visit.

The MDA estimates that there are 25 million web capable handsets in the UK out of a total mobile phone using population of more than 45 million.

Despite the growing popularity of Wap, its success is still dwarfed by text messaging. The MDA estimates that 1.43 billion text messages were sent during September, approximately two million an hour.

See also:

02 Oct 02 | Technology
17 Apr 02 | Business
12 Sep 02 | Technology
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25 Oct 02 | Technology
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