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RE: News report: Vodafone transcoding proxy strips user agent strings

From: Rhys Lewis <rhys@volantis.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2007 09:45:45 -0600 (MDT)
To: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>, <www-tag@w3.org>
Cc: <daniel.appelquist@vodafone.com>
Message-ID: <002101c7ff8b$851e4900$0202fea9@volantisuk>

Hello Noah, 

Just for information, the Mobile Web Initiative Best Practices Working
Group, which Dan Appelquist co-chairs with Jo Rabin, has established a
Content Transformation Task Force, which I chair, that is looking at the
difficulties that arise when transforming proxies, server-side adaptation
and highly capable mobile browsers have to co-exist in the same network.
We are currently engaged in finalising our problem statement and have
started work on a guidelines document. The general feeling of the group is
that judicious application of existing HTTP features can probably provide
resolution to the kinds of issue raised in the article you cite.

I would characterise the overall challenge as being to ensure that
mechanisms that transform existing Web sites for use on mobile devices can
sit comfortably alongside sites that natively provide an optimised mobile
experience. 

We are hoping to have a public working draft of the guidelines document
prepared in time for the BP F2F meeting in Boston during the TP/AC week.

Best wishes
Rhys

> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-tag-request@w3.org [mailto:www-tag-request@w3.org] 
> On Behalf Of noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com
> Sent: 25 September 2007 14:55
> To: www-tag@w3.org
> Cc: daniel.appelquist@vodafone.com
> Subject: News report: Vodafone transcoding proxy strips user 
> agent strings
> 
> 
> I don't know anything about this beyond what's in the article 
> at 
> http://wireless.itworld.com/4269/070924vodafone/page_1.html, 
> but I read that to imply that Vodafone is deploying a 
> transcoding proxy that is stripping user agent strings and 
> thus hiding device and browser characteristics from Web 
> servers.  They apparently are operating an opt-in whitelist 
> that allows particular sites to get the user agent strings after 
> all.   Quoting from the article:
> 
> "Companies that are on Vodafone's "white list," which is a 
> group of Vodafone-approved services, were notified of the 
> change and the operator is passing the user agent correctly 
> for those services, developers say. 
> Some developers complain that it's difficult to find out how 
> to get on the white list, it can take several months to get 
> added and that Vodafone requires white list companies to make 
> certain changes to the way the included sites operate.
> 
> "If all operators had a similar process, service providers 
> like Harper would have to get on the approved list for every 
> operator around the world. That's comparable to asking any 
> Web service to be approved by every ISP in the world in order 
> to operate."
> 
> Again, I don't know how much of this is true or whether there 
> are good explanations not provided in the article.  Still, I 
> wonder whether this is 
> is something the TAG might want to consider giving some 
> attention?   Note 
> that Vodafone is a W3C member, and I am copying their 
> Advisory Committee representative, Daniel Appelquist on this 
> note.  Thank you.
> 
> Noah
> 
> --------------------------------------
> Noah Mendelsohn
> IBM Corporation
> One Rogers Street
> Cambridge, MA 02142
> 1-617-693-4036
> --------------------------------------
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
Received on Tuesday, 25 September 2007 15:46:05 UTC

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