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Sonera and APiON to Develop Commercial WAP Services

Sonera Ltd of Finland and APiON Ltd. of Northern Ireland have signed a Letter of Intent concerning Sonera’s purchase of APiON’s WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) gateway product. The LOI is one step in a project targeting to launch Sonera’s commercial WAP services in the 3rd quarter of this year, coinciding with the estimated mass market availability of first WAP compliant handsets from the major manufacturers.

The WAP is an industry standard protocol specification allowing vendor independent delivery of internet-based services to mobile handsets. The specification will allow services to be developed using a standardised language, WML (Wireless Markup Language), making it possible for content providers to target the mobile customer base with minimal experience of mobile networks.

According to the signed LOI, APiON will deliver Sonera the ”Binnian” WAP Gateway in the second quarter of this year. Before actual service launch, Sonera and APiON will undertake a technology trial during the coming spring, as well as a wider service trial during summer. ”GSM information services have been very well received in the Finnish market. WAP provides an interesting  addition to the current SMS based technologies used to deliver information and transaction services to Sonera's GSM subscribers. The WAP based services will follow a natural evolution path from the current service portfolio towards 3rd generation mobile multimedia services”, said Mr. Olavi Koistinen, Senior Vice President of Sonera.

Even though it is an open specification allowing basically anybody to develop services, WAP does not diminish the importance of a good relationship between a content provider and a mobile operator. As Ms. Katri Virsunen, a Sonera Product Manager points out:  ”Even though unlimited Internet browsing with WAP handsets is possible in principle, the more probable scenario is the emergence of  services specially developed for the mobile subscriber. Away from their desks, people will want to get straight to the point without the unnecessary clutter of a typical web-site”. To forward this cause, Sonera is actively working with content providers to bring to the market the best possible mobile service portfolio.

The APiON WAP gateway has been designed for scalability and to facilitate easy integration with existing network infrastructure, such as wireless data bearers, billing and network management systems. Early interoperability work and demonstration of WAP service concepts have been carried out using a currently available alpha release of the WAP Gateway. According to Denis Murphy, APiON Managing Director, “APiON believes that WAP will become the ‘de facto’ mechanism for delivery of mobile value added services over the coming year. We are committed to delivering central office grade WAP infrastructure solutions which will allow our customers to provide a reliable and scalable WAP service. APiON is very pleased to be working with Sonera with the strategic objective of implementing one of the first true WAP systems in the world.”

In a separate agreement, Sonera has agreed to start early trials of WAP technology with three key partners. The selected  partners include  Finnair Oyj and TT-Tietopalvelut as content providers, and Akumiitti Oy as a systems integrator with broad experience in mobile services. In this trial the partners will trial several end-user applications developed using the WAP specification in Sonera’s live network. The aim of this trial is to gain experience of the issues involved in developing real applications using WAP. “Akumiitti has extensive experience in building applications for the Internet and wireless world. This trial will give us a unique chance to use that knowledge and to learn more about the specific issues of WAP application development”, said Mr. Antti Hannula, Marketing Director of Akumiitti. Even though the technology trial will start with these three key partners, Sonera will be expanding the WAP partnership program during the summer.

Further information is provided by:

Sonera Ltd, Product Development Manager Timo Ahomäki, Mobile Telephone Services, tel. +358 2040 3152, e-mail: [email protected]

NOTES TO EDITORS

WAP

Both Sonera and APiON are members of the WAP Forum, an industry consortium driving WAP viability and acceptance. The WAP Forum has established specifications for an advanced protocol that works across different wireless network technologies and devices internationally.  

About Sonera

Sonera Ltd is Finland’s leading telecommunications company with subsidiaries and associated companies in 14 countries. Internationally, Sonera is a forerunner in the rapidly growing business areas of mobile, data and media communications. In 1998, Sonera’s net sales amounted to 1,623 million euros, and the operating profit was 289 million euros. The Group employs 8,600 people. For more information see www.sonera.fi

About APiON

APiON is well established as a world-leading Telecommunications Software Company with significant expertise and competence in a range of network infrastructure technologies including Switching, Signaling, Wireless Data, Internet Integration, and Intelligent Networks. APiON is actively involved in WAP Forum activities, and is committed to being 'first-to-market' with new and innovative functionality as the WAP standards develop. For additional information on APiON, contact the Company on the World Wide Web at www.APiON-tss.com