Glossary definition of Wireless Application Protocol

Also known as: WAP

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is a common global standard, which defines the way in which Internet communications and advanced non-voice services are provided on wireless mobile devices, such as digital mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants.

The current version of this protocol is WAP 2.0, and it is fast becoming the standard way for mobile devices to access Internet services, by communicating with a server installed in the mobile phone network. A mobile device can therefore combine telephony services with the limited capacity of mobile terminal displays, and so provide the user with a microbrowser. A WAP enabled phone provides interactive access to the Internet, and to services such as online news and information, e-commerce transactions, online banking, e-mail messaging, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and a host of new services still in development.

Subscribers use WAP to access websites and pages that have been converted for WML (Wireless Markup Language), which are stripped down to their basic text format, and this is more suitable for the limited display capabilities of mobile devices. WAP works with multiple standards and is supported by most modern mobile networks, such as GSM, GPRS, and UMTS, and in the future equipment and networks that use WAP will be more compatible, regardless of the manufacturer.

WAP is the mobile equivalent of HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), and has been developed through the cooperation of the world's major telecommunications and software companies, their activities being co-ordinated through the WAP Forum. The WAP Forum has a website at

Some manufacturers claim that their handsets have WAP 2.0 browsers; this is often a re-branding of an XHTML-MP browser, the version number representing XHTML replacing WML for mobile content markup.

An alternative system standard to WAP is i-Mode.