While configuring Apache to deliver wireless data is relatively simple, as
we will discuss shortly, it is helpful to understand the context of the issues surrounding wireless content delivery.
Land-based Internet communications move data around the world
using the TCP/IP
protocol. This protocol helps “packets” of data navigate the complex
routes across networks, changing paths where necessary to maintain traffic flow
across the system. Vendors of wireless communications devices, including such heavyweights as Nokia and Motorola, realized that a data routing system was
necessary to push information across wireless networks, which operate with different
principles and constraints than physical land lines.
Thus was born the Wireless Application Protocol, or WAP. WAP was
designed to push data across the many various types of wireless network topographies
in a secure manner, since the wireless space is inherently more vulnerable to
eavesdropping than are physical connections. Any operating system can theoretically support WAP. However, the reality is that most devices that will require WAP capabilities will be small in their physical size, like mobile phones and hand-held PDA-style machines.
The consequence of WAP devices’ small size is that although WAP as a protocol
is perfectly capable of pushing existing data formats such as HTML, these devices
are essentially too constrained to properly render documents encoded in these
formats, which have been developed with desktop monitors in mind. A companion to
WAP was needed then, as well as a defined document format that would render sensibly
in the constrained space of small wireless devices.