PC Advisor can exclusively reveal that UK PDA manufacturer Psion is set to add WAP functionality to its popular Revo handheld PC.

WAP is a set of software protocols that will enable mobile phones from any compliant manufacturer to send and receive data across any WAP-enabled wireless network, allowing users to access and retrieve information from the Internet.

Due to be formally announced 14 September the upgraded Revo will sport a WAP browser that should come as a welcome boost for the fledgling protocol, which has so far under-whelmed an expectant nation.

According to industry observers, activities such as share trading on the go and banking on the bus will benefit from the Revo’s keyboard, in contrast to the painstaking number pads on most WAP phones.

The company has not yet announced pricing for the new Revo. Existing models sell for £255.

Industry analysts, meanwhile, are still confident that WAP will take off, despite its lack lustre start. Research firm IDC, for example, projects that more than 1.3 billion wireless Internet users worldwide will have WAP-enabled devices by 2004.

And the growing number of members in the global WAP Forum, now standing at around 500, signals the confidence that WAP still has significant potential, said Heikki Tarvainen, Nokia’s director of mobile services and business development, mobile phones.

Tarvainen dismissed suggestions that WAP will inevitably expire once high-speed wireless technologies and networks such as third-generation (3G) and General Radio Packet Service (GPRS) come into play.

"GPRS and 3G are just the core network technologies. You will still need the platform standard, which is what WAP is all about," he explained, noting all three will work alongside one another.

"WAP will be needed even if higher data rates are available," said Tarvainen, and added that the protocol will evolve further as a standard. By the end of 2003, there will be more handsets than there are PCs that have connection to the Internet, he said.