Anyone who has ever used a WAP phone will know how hit-and-miss wireless networking can be. But IT analyst firm Gartner is pleading for patience because, according to the company, it could soon be a lot easier.

The firm said the public will be spoilt for choice when it comes to accessing the internet through their mobile phones and PDAs.

"At the moment everyone has got one solution, WAP, but in the future there will be a choice of access protocols," said Geoff Johnson, research director with Gartner's Asia-Pacific Research Centre.

Part of the reason for this call for clemency is due to Gartner's past insistence that WAP would take off sooner and greater than it has.

"(IT managers) really need to figure out what wireless applications would be useful to their workforce and what sort of access they need," Johnson said.

Johnson added that in Japan more airtime is used for data than voice, a trend that wasn't expected to occur for another two years.

But in Japan, i-Mode, a packet-based service for mobile phones offered by NTT Docomo, dominates, not WAP.

Unlike most of the key players in the wireless arena, i-Mode eschews WAP and uses a simplified version of HTML, compact wireless markup language (CWML), instead of WML.