Mobile operator Orange is to offer its customers free Wap calls at weekends until the end of February next year.
From this weekend, Orange subscribers will have free unlimited Wap access from midnight Friday until midnight Sunday every weekend until 28 February. The operator is expected to announce the deal on Friday, but has already informed some users.
The offer will be available on all Wap-enabled pre-pay or contract Orange phones, except Orange Value Promise users. Wap pre-pay customers who have registered with the operator on or after 1 July - or 11 July if on a contract - will have automatic access to the promotion. Customers registered prior to this will need to contact Orange customer services (dial 150).
The company said that the free access promotion is limited to personal use, and that calls to Wap gateways other than its own will be charged at the usual rate.
With internet service provider Breathe also offering free Wap calls until the end of November, operators appear to be moving towards kick-starting the Wap market, but many users are still critical of the services for being too expensive and slow.
Michele MacKenzie, an analyst with research firm Ovum, said: "There has been a lower than expected take-up of Wap and price is one factor which hinders it. Connection times are slow which can be both trying and expensive for the user. If the introduction of pricing cuts encourages users then this is a good thing and could be a way of boosting Wap.
"I don't think this is an admission that Wap has not been taking off. There has been a number of showstoppers which have hindered the adoption of services including a lack of compelling content, slow networks as well as pricing," MacKensie added. "This could be eliminated when packet switched networks are introduced."
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