Telecom Tips - Viewing Websites Efficiently On PDAs and Phones

by Brian McConnell

While wireless Internet access is becoming a standard feature on cellular phones and PDAs, few cellular networks provide true broadband access. Most websites, optimized for fixed-line users, have become bloated with graphics and scripts. How can you trim the fat off these websites so they'll load quickly on your Treo?

Most websites have been optimized for viewing on desktop PCs with relatively fast Internet connections. However, a typical cellular Internet connection operates a speeds comparable to older dial-up connections, typically with substantial variability from moment to moment. Unless you're paying extra for 3G service, such as Verizon's EVDO, you'll be lucky to see real-world download speeds greater than 100kbps.

Fortunately, most of the heft in today's websites is superfluous, and actually gets in the way when viewing a site on a wireless device. Chances are that you're primarily viewing text information, such as news, weather, email, and so forth.

Lo-Band



I recently discovered Lo Band (www.loband.org). This service strips graphics, scripts and other fat out of webpages, and delivers just basic HTML text and hyperlinks. While it was originally designed to optimize page delivery to developing countries where broadband is a rarity, it works equally well for wireless users.

Markup



If you're interested in rolling your own solution, check out Mark Up. Markup translates HTML into easily readable, editable text. While the goal of Markup was to make it easier to hand-code HTML pages, it serves equally well as a way of stripping the fat out of web pages for display on text oriented devices. Aaron Schwartz has a Python library (HTML2TEXT) that you can use to build your own web-to-wireless gateway scripts.



Know of other tools that make it easy to view websites on cellphones, PDAs and other handheld devices? Post your comments here...