WAP: Pioneers of India’s Mobile Net

Tata Cellular
Hyderabad-based Tata Cellular has become the first Indian
cellular service provider to enable its subscribers to surf the
Net through a mobile phone.

In the first few days of
mobile Internet services, this operator has rightly introduced
mobile Internet services with free airtime. Even after 15 May it
was Rs 2 per minute for surfing WAP content, which is
significantly less than Rs 4.5 per minute standard airtime
tariff. It has also allowed its subscribers to surf any WAP-enabled
site in the world through its WAP gateway. Though Tata Cellular
is considering its own mobile portal, Manzoor Ul Ameen,
marketing manager, says, “We believe that the subscribers
objectives of getting personalized and localized services is
best served by facilitating the free propagation of portals and
services by a host of vendors”. Ideal words from a real

Introducing mobile
Internet was indeed a leapfrog for Tata Cellular, which had till
recently been focusing more on growing its voice services. In
fact, apart from SMS-based e-mail services, the company is yet
to go in for other SMS-based services like stocks@tatacell.net
and mobile banking. Introducing these SMS-based services is a
priority because of the huge number of SMS-capable mobiles
already existing in the country. However, it was the long-term
opportunity of convergence technologies and the first mover
advantage that really pushed Tata Cellular to enable Internet
access on its mobile network.

It has already invested Rs
1 crore on WAP and expects the ongoing roll out of mobile
Internet to take 6-10 months.

Dial-up Number:
Gateway IP Address:
Manosh R

Mumbai-based Orange is likely to officially launch mobile
Internet services in the next few weeks. It has already
installed a WAP gateway, which its subscribers are using to
access Rediff.com’s WAP-enabled content and has introduced
several SMS-based information and messaging services like mobile
e-mail and mobile banking. When it offered mobile e-mail at an
introductory free tariff, market sources say Orange network
experienced a high of 2 lakh messages being transacted daily.
With competitors like BPL Mobile in Mumbai and AirTel in Delhi
close on its WAP heels, it might not like to lose the first
mover advantage by not speeding up its launch. Though WAP phones
are very few compared to SMS-capable phones, Orange must rightly
play a role of the mobile Internet incubator.


Perhaps the largest cellular service provider in India in terms
of geographical spread, after it bought over JT Mobiles and
Skycell, AirTel is known to be launching a mobile Internet
rollout across all its circles. It has tried out at least three
sets of WAP solutions. AirTel has already introduced unified
messaging, mobile e-mail, mobile stock information services, and
mobile banking. It was also known to have experienced a traffic
of 1 to 1.5 lakh messages per day during the initial
introductory phase of launching its SMS-based information

Aircel Digilink
Aircel Digilink is also in the process of enabling its cellular
subscribers to surf WAP-enable sites. It has roped in Ericsson
for its WAP infrastructure.

BPL Mobile
BPL Mobile, which is emerging as the most dominant cellular
service provider in South India, has also announced that it will
soon introduce mobile Internet services. It is likely to
coincide the WAP launch with introduction of its GPRS services
which can significantly speed up the access of connection to WAP
sites. It is known to be in intense negotiations with at least
two well-known WAP gateway vendors.

Other operators who are also in the process of putting up WAP
infrastructure include Birla AT&T in Maharashtra, Goa, and
Gujarat; Escotel in Haryana, UP (East), and Kerala; and Essar
Cellphone in Delhi.


The most comprehensive WAP site so far in India, waphoria.com
developed by Itfinity–a Mumbai-based WAP solution provider–is
a treat to surf on a cell phone. It really works and is both
interesting and useful. If you want to know which film is being
aired at prime time on Star Movies tonight, you better go
straight to www.waphoria.com on your phone. News, stocks,
mutual funds, address book, bookmarks, reminders, horoscopes,
movies, TV, forex rates, currency converters, and STD codes are
some of the info already available here.

WAP URL: http://www.waphoria.com 

Sharekhan.com, promoted by SSKI, a 75-year old broker firm with
a network of 47 franchisees across 28 cities, is India’s first
WAP-enabled site about investing. The Sharekhan.com team can be
credited for installing perhaps the most advanced WAP
gateway/server in India. A WAP phone can access it through any
cellular service provider in the world and an ISP, irrespective
of whether the cellular operator has a WAP gateway or not. One
does not even have to go through a public gateway available
abroad as one can directly use Sharekhan.com’s gateway IP

At present one can access
stock quotes, financial news headlines, latest Sensex (BSE) and
Nifty (NSE) values, top gainers and losers, and punters call
which is a specialized information service by stock market
experts All these services are free as of now. This apart,
Sharekhan.com is promoting the usage of its mobile content by
giving away thirty Nokia 7110 WAP phones through a contest on
its web site.


WAP URL:  http://mobile.sharekhan.com/wap/home.wml 
Gateway IP Address:


India’s leading portal, Rediff.com is one of the first Indian
portals to enable access to its content through a mobile phone.
Subscribers can access its WAP content through the WAP gateway
installed at Orange, Mumbai. General news, business news, sports
news and scores, calendar services, market indices, and daily
horoscope/star forecasts are currently available on Rediff

WAP URL: http://mobile.rediff.com/index.wml 

This Delhi-based niche SMS and other mobile solution provider is
in the process of providing a gamut of WAP-based services. It
will be an independent content provider and is also developing
an online booking system for mobile salesman.

It is probably the first ASP in India to try out a mobile model.
Some of the applications that it is likely to host wirelessly
are messaging, voice/fax/mail notification, m-commerce, mobile
banking, corporate e-mail, and personalization. Netxcell is in
the process of launching its site and it is likely to brand it
with a carrier’s name. Though the final model of pricing is
not yet ready, most services will be free.


The other web sites working on WAP include
, www.hdfc.com,
www.go4i.com  and www.business-standard.com 


Nokia was perhaps the earliest companies to talk about WAP in
India. Its strategy for India is to enable mobile Internet
access as part of the larger infrastructure solution to leading
cellular service providers. Nokia has one of the longest list of
worldwide references for WAP implementation. And its Indian arm
is likely to leverage on this experience to provide a reliable
WAP solution to the serious players. As Sanjay Bhasin, general
manager, sales and marketing, South Asia, puts it, “Nokia’s
is a solid WAP experience, not a hit and trial

Nokia’s WAP products
include Nokia WAP Server, which enables mobile terminals to
connect to content and applications hosted by web servers or any
other server on the Internet or Intranet, and Nokia WAP Client–a
platform independent implementation of a WAP client including
the micro browser and the protocol layer.

Clients in India:
Orange, BPL Mobile, Fascel (based on market sources and not yet
Sanjay Bhasin


Though Ericsson has implemented over 70 WAP systems worldwide,
it is not very active on the WAP solution front in India. The
reason is that it has preferred to remain silent initially and
focus on doing trials and providing WAP as part of a complete
wireless data solution inclusive of highs-speed bearers like
GPRS. It already has notched up a client in Bharti Cellular for
implementation of GPRS. Ericsson’s India WAP strategy,
according to Sanjay Sharma, general manager, business
development, Ericsson Communication Ltd, is to leverage on its
dominant mobile infrastructure client base in India, which is
35-40 percent of the entire market.

Ericsson has an array of
WAP products to offer which includes WAP gateway/proxy, WAP
application servers, WTA servers, and other WAP application

Clients in India

Clients in India:
Aircel Digilink
Karthik Shivaram

One of the founding members of the WAP Forum, this company has
actually been the most active evangelist of WAP. Often accused
of attempting to be the Microsoft of wireless Internet,
Phone.com has the largest client base of WAP gateway/server in
the world. However, it does not yet have a direct presence in
India, though it is known to have tied up with a leading Indian
integrator to address the Indian market.

While Phone.com has a
complete portal solution called MyPhone, it has Up.Link Server
suite and Up.Link Applications catering to WAP service providers
and Up.Browser and Up.Smart catering to WAP phone manufacturers.

Integra Micro
Bangalore-based Integra Micro has arguably the largest client
base in India for WAP solutions. It is also contributing to the
growth of wireless Internet by promoting collaboration among
prospective Indian WAP players. The lead role that Integra is
playing in coordinating the forthcoming “WAPCON 2000”
and “India’s WAP Initiative” are efforts towards
that end.

Integra Micro’s family
of Jataayu WAP product includes separate servers designed for
personal clients, enterprise users, and carriers respectively,
apart from the Jataayu WAP client and WAP stack.

According to the market
sources, Integra is seen to be highly flexible and capable of
dedicated support. Its WAP strategy at the moment is to build up
a strong presence in the Indian market and using that to target
the worldwide market. As for the world market, Integra has got
its Jataayu stack for embedded systems already licenced to a
US-based software development house. It is also scouting for
strategic tie-ups for both domestic as well as the export


Orange, BPL Mobile, AirTel, Escotel, Rediff, Sharekhan.com,
clickcricket.com, JP Systems (US), Star Search (UK), and Siemens
Raj Kesarimall


This small company in Bangalore already offers GPRS and Edge
modem designs to GSM and IS-136 product vendors, and 3G Wireless
protocol stack for mobile handsets and terminals to
manufacturers worldwide. A technologically diversified company,
SAS is now 500 employees strong and ISO 9001 certified. With an
excellent technology background, it is now pitching its i-WAVE
WAP gateway for both the domestic and world markets.

SAS has a strategy of
targeting the solution developers first and then expand to
mobile operators and portals. It intends to help and guide
software solution providers having domain expertise in their
respective focus areas. This way, it enables the software
companies to concentrate on their core competencies while SAS
gives support in terms of value-additions in the WAP solution.
Consequently, SAS will team up with the software developer to
provide the best solutions to the mobile operators and portals.
This way, good local support and customization can be easily
delivered to clients–domestic or abroad.
Paresh Vora 

Taruni Technovision
Hyderabad-based Taruni Technovi-sion has the distinction of
providing WAP solutions to Tata Cellular and will implement it
for Birla AT&T as well. Started in early 1999, this start-up
has developed two ready products in FlashServ–a SMS solution–and
WAP 1.1 gateway/server. It is currently working towards
incorporating security mechanisms and other advanced features to
its existing products, apart from researching on next generation
wireless technologies. Taruni’s intent is to develop the
market in India and then target the markets abroad. The company
just completed its European marketing tour and is developing
mechanisms to have a strong presence in the world market. Going
by its early successes in India, Taruni already has a strong
launch pad apart from technological expertise.

Clients in India:
Tata Cellular, Birla AT&T
Arvind Kumar

Tanla Solutions
One of the first few companies in the world to work on a USSD
bearer-based operator class WAP gateway, Hyderabad-based Tanla
Solutions aims to be a one-stop shop for mobile solutions. Apart
from having an offshore centre for WAP-enabling web sites and
e-commerce portals, it has also set up an offshore competence
centre for mobile operating systems like EPOC, WinCE, and Palm
OS. Tanla’s WAP gateway offers mobile network operators a
complete solution for various services. It also supports
integration with telephony services. Its WAP server connects a
company’s Intranet to its mobile employees, clients, and
associates. Tanla Solutions approaches the world market by
offering both on-site and offshore services. Its Indian strategy
is to market its products and services both directly and through
channel partners.

Hewlett Packard
HP with its impressive suite of products for e-businesses is
emerging to be the preferred partner for product vendors in the
wireless space. Leading WAP gateway vendor Nokia’s WAP server
runs on HP’s server hardware and integrates well with software
platforms like OpenMail Anywhere, VirtualVault, E-speak, and
Smart Internet. Tantau Software is another leading WAP vendor,
which has based its wireless Internet platform on HP UX. HP is
also creating an ecosystem of developers and users of mobile
e-services and has already set up an online mobile bazaar (www.mobilebazaar.com)
where developers and users can exchange views and ideas, apart
from getting assistance and support from HP.

In India, HP is closely
working with Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel, and Motorola to offer its
solutions to service providers and enterprises. It is also in
the process of setting up a local e-services mobile bazaar in
India at in Bangalore.
Telia of Sweden

Though software giant Microsoft showed lukewarm responses to WAP
initially, it is now trying hard to pitch its products like
Windows NT and Windows CE in the wireless space. It has a tie-up
with Ericsson for providing personal information management
solutions which include e-mail and calendar.

Its rival Sun Microsystems
is also working out strategy to position its Java and Jini
platforms in the new wireless paradigm. Oracle is also known to
be active in the field. It already has a strong application
platform for e-businesses suited for wireless service providers.
However, these three companies have not yet revealed their
strategy for India.

Phone Vendors

Nokia is easily the largest mobile handset vendor in the
country. It is the first company in India to introduce a WAP
phone–the Nokia 7110. It is reportedly available at a street
price of
Rs 18,000. Though not yet available in India, Nokia has already
launched two more WAP handsets, the 6210 and the 6250, while the
9110i now comes with a WAP browser.

Ericsson has also launched its WAP phone, R320s, in India
recently. However, it is targeted at the premium segment with a
street price of around Rs 30,000.

Siemens WAP model, C35I, is reportedly getting launched in India
soon. Its S25 also reportedly comes with a micro browser based
on the older WAP 1.0 specifications.

With a strong India initiative, Samsung is looking forward to
shortly launching its WAP phones in India. It has a CDMA-based
WAP phone already available in the Asian and European markets.
And it plans to shortly come out with a GSM WAP phone. 


Started in 1999, eCapital is India’s leading and the most
experienced integration company for the cellular services
industry. Powered by its domain expertise on telecommunications
and its popular applications platform eVector, eCapital has
already implemented impressive projects for some of the biggest
cellular service providers in Europe. Projects that it has
implemented include development of mobile-to-Internet messaging
application for Sonera in
Finland and deployment of mobile-enabled corporate applications
for Vodafone in the UK. eVector, the flagship product of this
company, allows it to integrate the legacy and new applications
of service providers and corporates to enable it to be accessed
by a mobile phone.

eCapital’s strategy for
India is to leverage on its experience to provide WAP
integration services to Indian mobile operators and other large
customers. For the purpose, it has tied up with Nokia for the
gateway solution and HP for the hardware platform. Currently, it
is reported to be in negotiation with several potential
customers in India.

Clients: WapIT, Yomi Media, Sonera of Finland; and Vodafone, Charles
Stanley, The Street, and TalkCast Media of UK.

Rajeev Batra


One of the earliest
companies to address the e-business needs of emerging new media
and dotcom companies in India, Planetasia.com has expanded its
skills by building content, community, and m-commerce solutions
for the wireless space. Leveraging on its competencies in web
strategy consulting, application development, solution
architecture, and strong in-house processes, Planetasia.com has
been able to strongly position itself in the mobile solution
arena as well.

Services it offers to
wireless operators, WAP content/commerce companies, and mobile
portals include providing solution consultancy and integration,
application environment evaluation, and providing information
design specifications.
Saju Joseph

IBM is emerging as one of the largest integrators of WAP
solutions in the world. With its long history of R&D in
pervasive computing technologies, the company has built up a
solution for the wireless space. 

Central among its products
for this space is IBM WebShpere Everyplace suite. This provides
ISPs the ability to create content in XML for use in all present
and future devices and enterprises a mobile extension of their
e-business foundations.

In the WAP scenario, IBM
is going in for an alliance proposition, whereby it will work
with leading wireless equipment providers like Motorola and
Nokia in providing WAP-based solutions to service providers and
enterprises. IBM is now eyeing the Indian market.

Clients: Japan Airlines, Vodafone,
BT Cellnet, Bank of Scotland, Swissair.
Rajiv Sachdev

Banking on its flagship product, Flexcube, and the popular
MicroBanker, iFlex has emerged as a global software solutions
provider to the financial services industry worldwide. In the
wireless space, iFlex intends to tap its deep domain knowledge
about the financial sector and extensive software skills to
enable banking and financial institutions to make their Web
content and commerce services accessible from a mobile phone.

Clients: HDFC

Delhi-based NextBrick is a technology service company focused on
providing services in the portal and B2B e-commerce space. On
the wireless front this company will focus on designing and
modeling mobile Internet sites, live launch of mobile Internet
services, and hosting, maintenance, and technical support for
mobile sites. Though it has focused largely on global projects,
NextBrick now wants to play a role in the Indian WAP rollout.

Clients: Go4i
Avanthi Shah


SA Global
Hyderabad-based SA Global is a software developer which offers
on-site and offshore development on Internet, Intranet, and
e-commerce. This company has a strong research team working on
new frontiers of software and one such area is WAP. Currently
mobile stock, portfolio management system, mobile banking
application, and mobile corporate application are being publicly
demonstrated to subscribers of Tata Cellular in Hyderabad.

Contact: AG

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