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Sat 5 Aug 2000 04:00 AM

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Info2cell.com creates WAP in the Middle East

Info2Cell.com has announced a scheme to give you information at any time, on any device. A diverse range of content will be offered to mobile and PC users throughout the Middle East.

Info2Cell.com has announced a scheme to give you information at any time, on any device. A diverse range of content will be offered to mobile and PC users throughout the Middle East via a combination of push (SMS and email) and pull (WAP and World Wide Web) technologies. Bashar Dahabra, managing director and co-founder, Info2Cell.com, believes that the successful merging of push and pull technologies is key to any mobile information service. "In our scenario, we see the top client as someone with a WAP phone. He sets alerts on certain information, receives an SMS, switches into WAP mode and browses for more information if he's away from his PC. Alternatively, he could go to our Web site and find more information there." Instant Delivery Rather than spending hours browsing for the specific information that you want, Info2Cell claims it can now deliver exactly what it is that you are interested in. The service includes world news, local news, business information and sports information. “Anything from 250 categories and counting,” said Dahabra. Once a user has created an individual profile, Info2Cell.com will start to send SMS messages to your mobile (or email to your PC) telling you of developments in your areas of interest. If you want to know more, dial into Info2Cell's WAP site immediately (or Web site if you're at your PC) and see the whole story. "SMS chases you, it will track you down,” said Dahabra. “With WAP, you're browsing, looking for something."Info2Cell.com has a team of 15 editors all over the region, gathering news content from a variety of local sources and international feeds. It is also branching out into other types of content that would be of interest to a mobile user. When, for example, the company could not find a partner that could provide it with real-time, regional stock market information, it approached the markets themselves - directly. Real-Time Quotes Today, Info2Cell servers reside on some of the major stock trading floors in the Middle East. Real-time quotes from regional markets will soon become part of the Info2Cell service.Flight information, cinema and TV listings and even mobile classifieds are also on offer. If, for example, you want to rent a flat in a certain area for a certain price and notify Info2Cell.com, an SMS message will be sent to your phone whenever a property comes up. WAP, under Info2Cell’s new service, can then be used to retrieve more information on the property.Dahabra, while optimistic of Info2Cell.com’s future, admits one challenge remains. Anyone can enter Info2Cell.com's Web site today and start to browse content, but the mobile part of the equation must still be rolled out in partnership with PTTs. PTTs have to be persuaded into entering revenue sharing deals. So far, one deal with Jordan's FastLink has been struck. Other trials are tipped to come to fruition imminently. However, a danger persists: If a monopoly operator chose not to work with a third party like Info2Cell, the company would be frozen out of that entire market. When asked about the potential threat, Dahabra told Mobile Executive ."Luckily, we have not faced that situation." Info2Cell’s safeguard is the great deal of content that it has developed. and the infrastructure, both human and technical, that is already in place."Dahabra continued: "[The GSM operator] can go to market tomorrow because the content has been established. We have amazing regional content." "The PTT, at the end of the day, is interested in providing value added services,” Dahabra said. “Contrary to the belief of many people, PTTs do care about quality of service." Future Challenges But there is yet one more challenge. Before the region's mobile phone users can begin to browse WAP content, the networks themselves have to support WAP. This is not the case, currently, in the Gulf. Again, Dahabra believes it is just a matter of time. "I can assure you, even though it is not visible to you, a number of Gulf PTTs are currently running WAP trials," he said. Whether sooner or later, PTTs will roll out wireless services and WAP support will be forthcoming. In fact, Info2Cell.com is already looking beyond straightforward content delivery. The company is working with airlines, banks and utilities to help them WAP-enable their services and even offer online transactions. Dahabra announced he will be looking at futuristic applications to utilise next generation 3G technology: "We are not stopping at content delivery.”

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