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Sonera is the first telecommunications operator in the world to launch information services intended for WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) compliant mobile phones. Sonera is ready to start providing it's vendor-independent WAP solution immediately. According to common market estimates, manufacturers will make the first WAP phones available during this year.

In addition to providing its own services, Sonera will also give its cooperation partners an opportunity to offer their services through Sonera's WAP concept. Of the company's cooperation partners, Finnair, Tieto Corporation, CNN Interactive, Yellow Pages, Diners Club and Pohjola, for example, presented their forthcoming WAP-based services at the launch event of Sonera's WAP solution in Helsinki.

Mr. Timo Ahomäki, Development Manager of Sonera, points out that WAP provides an excellent platform for the production of new, more interactive services. "However, WAP is only a technical interface for the production of services. Time will tell what kinds of new services we can eventually offer by means of WAP", says Ahomäki. The services presented today deploy only a small part of WAP's potential, which is only natural, since the potential and limitations of the new technology are not yet fully known. Even though WAP offers interesting new opportunities, Sonera will also continue to develop services for the "traditional" mobile phones supporting only GSM text messaging.

The WAP services provided by Sonera are mainly based on the existing information services deploying GSM Text and on the messi.net Internet service launched by Sonera in June. Messi.net is a service that supplements Sonera's GSM services by offering Sonera's mobile phone customers a second user interface for managing their mobile subscription through the Internet. Sonera's WAP service package allows the customer to use his/her WAP compliant handset for example to make account balance queries, download Doris ringing tones and make directory enquiries from Telefinder. By utilizing the features of messi.net, the customer can also personalize the WAP menu to be downloaded to his/her phone by
selecting the services he/she wants from a predetermined portfolio of mobile value-added services.

Sonera's WAP solution is based on the WAP gateway product acquired by Sonera from Apion Ltd of Northern Ireland. Of all products available on the market, Sonera chose the Apion WAP Gateway, since it supports best the personalization features on which Sonera's solution is based. Great importance was also attached to billing and customer management features.

"GSM information services have been very well received in the Finnish market. Of Sonera's revenues, 7 per cent comes from wireless data traffic. We believe that the figure will be about 10 per cent at the monthly level by the end of this year. The wireless data traffic consists mostly of transmission of SMS-based messages. The introduction of WAP contributes to the increase in mobile data traffic, since the access it offers to services is easier to use than the traditional text messaging", says Mr. Olavi Koistinen, Senior Vice President of Sonera.

WAP provides an interesting addition to the current SMS-based technologies used to deliver information and transaction services to Sonera's GSM customers. The WAP-based services follow a natural evolution path from the current service portfolio towards third generation mobile multimedia services", Koistinen says.

The WAP is an industry standard protocol specification allowing delivery of Internet-based services to mobile phones. The specification allows services to be developed using a standardized language, WML (Wireless Mark-up Language), making it possible for content providers to target the mobile customer base with minimal experience of mobile networks. In Sonera's WAP concept, the billing of a customer is based on transaction-specific billing, familiar from the current SMS-based services. This practice allows a compensation to be paid to the service provider for the use of the service.

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

Apion Ltd
Mr. Richard McConnell
R&D Director
tel. +44 802 774445
e-mail: [email protected]