Plotting a new world of communications with WebRTC

26 April 2016 | Carl Baptiste

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Carl Baptiste

Blog Author | Genband; Senior Vice President


The internet as we know it will be almost unrecognisable within the next five years, as the rate of technology change continues to accelerate exponentially.

This is particularly the case in the communications world, where the life cycle of human communication is entering its final five years before everybody is connected to the internet.

We are on the verge of a new era of total connectivity, with smartphone penetration already booming across the world and wearable technology becoming increasingly practical with the rise of the internet of things. 

As peoples’ lives become ever more mobile, there is increasing pressure on the telecommunications industry to provide constant and immediate communication.

Users are demanding access to services that provide ubiquitous access to text, voice, video and screen sharing, and that offer streamlined connections to friends, family and colleagues anywhere in the world whenever there is a network connection and a mobile device or computer.

To meet this need, we are seeing a rapid boom in the provision of and uptake in unified communications and, in particular, a surge in the usage of web-based real time communications (WebRTC). 

The rapid rise of WebRTC

The biggest success story of unified communications thus far has been Skype, which offers easy-to-use true cloud communications with decent voice and video quality. 

This is fine for most consumers, but from a corporate perspective Skype’s downfall is the difficulty of integrating it into existing business systems. Limited or no options to integrate with  existing business systems means that existing investments in things like call centers, existing conference bridges, video room systems. and more can no longer be leveraged or simply exist as disconnected islands.  

Additionally, Skype and other similar OTT services force often business users to move between various applications to store contact information and passwords rather than keeping all contacts in a single system.

Adding WebRTC can finish the job by packaging the appropriate supporting APIs to integrate other business applications into a single user experience. 

The open source protocol brings together video, audio and file-sharing through a web browser, removing the need for platform-specific software or plug-ins that can make existing videoconferencing offerings complicated and more costly. 

It’s as simple as clicking a link to open the browser, and the video conference magically appears – providing quick, easy-to-use, rich quality face-to-face communication. 

Low cost future communications

WebRTC becomes a no-brainer from a business perspective when considering the financial benefits. It costs less to deploy, there’s no vendor lock-in so businesses can pick and choose from services, and one user interface can be provided across all the user’s devices.

The beauty of WebRTC lies in its simplicity. It can be embedded with a few lines of JavaScript and used on any device that can run a web browser. In addition to this, there are no subscriptions or licensing fees and it negates the need for dedicated hardware – all of which adds up to substantially lower costs.

Enhanced security by default

The majority of VoIP and unified communications solutions currently available are less secure than their millions of users would realise as they tend to use real-time transport protocol (RTP) for calls. As businesses increasingly embrace the age of connectivity they need to be thinking security first by delivering Secure RTP (SRTP). 

This more advanced approach can be difficult to set up, which is why many solutions simply settle for the easy option. But if the new world of total connectivity is to be a success this new, more secure protocol must become the widely accepted standard. 

The open source nature of WebRTC means it avoids this problem and uses SRTP by default – so not only is it more cost-effective, it’s also more secure.

Facilitating future communications

It’s worth remembering that, while WebRTC may well be the figurehead for the UC revolution, it is not a standalone service or solution, but rather a facilitator. An analogy to sum this up is that it resembles a school bus, which is the facilitator for getting children to school so that they learn. 

The bus driver is not the man to blame if children come home from school having not learnt anything, and in the same manner WebRTC can’t be relied upon to solve businesses’ communications requirements. 

WebRTC simplifies the process of gaining value and business benefits of a plethora of communications services, such as Lync, Google Apps, Salesforce and SAP.

New container technologies, which enable application portability and deployment across multiple devices, without disruption to the user or the need for intensive IT implication, will help further drive adoption and market acceptance of Web RTC by overcoming the limitation of mobile browsers, and enabling a native application experience.

WebRTC can be the transport model that carries businesses into the brave new world of advanced, fully mobile communications. 

This is an opportunity for businesses to innovate with a low-cost, highly secure concept that is increasingly disrupting the telecoms industry.