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Logica Launches WAP Alternative

[June 23] Computer consultancy Logica plc announced Friday the first commercially available cHTML gateway, a product that could help bring Japan's WAP alternative to the rest of the world.

cHTML is the acronym for Compact HTML, a defined sub-set of Hypertext MarkUp Language which is the basis of a typical Web page. In Japan, cHTML handsets already support color graphics, animated GIFs, and polyphonic MIDI ring-tone download -- and more features including Java and 128 bit SSL encryption are coming shortly.

Recently, European WAP experts have been dismissive about the success of the Japanese system -- popularized by carriers such as NTT DoCoMo -- pointing out that the WAP infrastructure is so far advanced in Europe that nothing can rival it. Today's announcement from Logica may change a few minds.

Paul Rogers, managing director of Logica Japan, noted that Japan now 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 NTT DoCoMo who use a compacted form of HTML to allow unmodified Internet sites to be presented on mobile phones," said Rogers.

Logica says it believes that the Japanese approach to the mobile Internet is "a proven business and technology model" and that by the end of this year there will commercially available handsets outside Japan using a variant of cHTML on CDMA and GSM/GPRS networks.

Frank Eastaughffe, head of Logica's mobile Internet business, said mobile operators needed to have the opportunity of future-proofing their mobile Internet strategies rather than 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 mark-up languages," said Eastaughffe.

Logica is working with Japanese partners to develop PDC/GSM/CDMA hybrid products.