BT Cellnet has been accused of misleading the public about its success in the Wap phone market and of over-hyping the technology.
Rival Wap provider Orange said today that BT Cellnet's claim that it has secured 90 per cent of the UK Wap market is "factually incorrect". Orange also disclosed that it had sold 70,000 Wap phones to date, predominantly the Nokia 7110.
Earlier this month, BT Cellnet announced that around 200,000 Wap phones had been sold in the UK to date. A BT Cellnet spokeswoman said this estimate was based on "market intelligence" and the operator's own figures.
BT claimed it had sold 175,000 between April and June alone. But subsequent figures from rival operators cast doubt on BT's 200,000 figure and its claim that it controls 90 per cent of the market. Orange's 70,000 sales, along with Vodafone's claimed 50,000, put BT's share at around 60 per cent.
Richard Brennan, UK commercial director at Orange, said BT's figure was not correct and that its advertising for Wap - which features a computer generated figure appearing to actually surf the internet within a mobile phone - had created misconceptions about Wap.
"The key thing where Cellnet has fallen down is saying that you can browse the internet on [Wap phones]. You can't, it's not like the regular internet," said Brennan.
Analyst group Ovum said earlier this year that Wap was a victim of its own hype and would struggle to live up to the expectations created. Wap is largely text based, mobile phones have small screens and mobile networks are still slow to access data services.
John Davison, principal consultant at Ovum said all the vendors figures are misleading because they only relate to the number of handsets sold rather than actual Wap users.
"The level of actual usage is lower than these figures. Until we get off a circuit switched network [onto a packet switched one], I don't see Wap kicking in at all," he said.
Orange said its Wap users were using the service for an average of two minutes per day, primarily for news, entertainment and weather.
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