WebRTC World Feature Article

November 16, 2012

WebRTC and UberConference: Are You Ready for Real-Time Communications?

Real-time communications – it’s the only acceptable form of communication in a world where smartphones, tablets and immediate connectivity are considered the norm. But can it be a reality in the Web browser?

Thanks to WebRTC, an open project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera and designed to enable Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities with the use of simple Javascript APIs, the answer is a firm yes. For developers, WebRTC ensures real-time communications between applications and devices without downloading a separate app, a streamlined experience in high demand.

Taking the user experience one step further, what can WebRTC mean for high quality audio and video?

ÜberConference and its CEO and Founder, Craig Walker, believe the availability of the latter will jumpstart development and adoption of the former. The company is trying to lead the way on audio and video conference calls that not only improve the quality of the connections, but also the quality of the experience as a whole for all users.

A simple dial in to the conference number and users are automatically authenticated according to their phone number. Regardless of the device used to connect, they then can see names, photos and other information regarding those involved in the call. Organizers can record calls, mute participants, eliminate background noise and even place virtual earmuffs on anyone who may not need to be privy to a certain element of the conversation.

All of these capabilities rely on RTC to deliver the right information at the right time. WebRTC can provide that open framework, including the fundamental building blocks to enable high-quality communications such as the audio, video and network components that serve as the foundation for voice and video chat applications.

When these capabilities are implemented into the browser, developers can then easily implement their own RTC Web app.

To further explore the power available in WebRTC and how ÜberConference looks make its mark, TMC talked with Walker. In the interview that follows, he provides his insight on the market, challenges to adoption, promise on the horizon and so much more. Keep reading to get all the details:

How quickly do you think WebRTC apps will appear in the market?

We believe that high quality audio and video in Chrome will jumpstart the development and adoption of WebRTC apps in the market.  We have our WebRTC integration for ÜberConference ready to go this month and believe other companies will be thinking along similar lines.

Which types of communications will WebRTC provide first – audio, video, text, P-P, conferencing?

We may be a little biased, but we think there are some huge opportunities for WebRTC in audio communications.  We like how that fits into the core ÜberConference audio conferencing experience.  Video is an exciting area as well. 

Which current businesses or business models will be most impacted by WebRTC?

The telephony industry is being disrupted by VoIP, and WebRTC will further impact various areas of the industry.  The international phone call segment has been one of the biggest areas affected because of the significant cost advantages of VoIP.  We think that WebRTC will have a strong impact on any price per minute business models, and that freemium subscription models that charge for advanced feature sets will become more popular.

What are the major barriers to WebRTC adoption?

We believe the main barrier to WebRTC now is ease of use.  Making it simple to use WebRTC natively in browsers without additional downloads or plugins is key.

What is the one thing that would accelerate WebRTC adoption and use?

In addition to removing the barriers of not having WebRTC work natively in browsers, having more great Web apps that use WebRTC will accelerate the adoption.  We think the value that WebRTC will add to ÜberConference will stand out to our users, and the more companies that build in WebRTC functionality the quicker the adoption will be. 

How is your company using WebRTC in 2013, in 2014?

ÜberConference is conference calling done right. It's simple to join phone conferences without PINs, see who is in the call and who is speaking, and run calls smoothly with powerful call management features. And with WebRTC, you don’t even need a phone.  

Using what Google has done with WebRTC in Chrome, and the open source JavaScript library by doubango.org SIPML5, we have hooked up our VoIP-based SIP and PSTN audio conferencing product to the web, so users can join conference calls over the Internet from their computers. Here is more on how this Web conferencing feature works.

We have a number of other voice initiatives we feel WebRTC will fit into nicely.

What benefit do you see to your customers from using WebRTC?

With the launch of WebRTC in Chrome 23, we will allow our users to “dial into” ÜberConference calls right from Chrome. It’s great for allowing international participants to join calls without calling a U.S. phone number, and also means people can use ÜberConference from anywhere in the world by calling in through the Web.

How many users will have experienced a WebRTC session by the end of 2013?

We are not sure about the overall figures, but we feel that a large percentage of our users will take advantage of WebRTC in ÜberConference to dial into conference calls through the browser and to have calls with participants from all over the world for free.

Will WebRTC become integrated with Web strategies or will it remain a communications service?

ÜberConference is primarily a communications service, so it certainly is a great fit for products like ours. We also believe that communications in general is becoming more integrated with web strategies, and you can see these trends with the rise of RTC platforms like Facebook and Twitter being used across the web.  WebRTC will further this trend by making it easier to have audio and video interactions in cases where it makes sense and wasn’t viable previously.  

Is WebRTC closely tied to your HTML5 strategy?

We don’t have a specific HTML5 strategy at this point.

What benefits do you see to your development process from using WebRTC?

The great thing about WebRTC is that we don’t have to develop our own software or ways to interoperate with other VoIP client software.  We can let people join ÜberConference calls over the Internet right in the browser.

12. Will you be incorporating WebRTC solutions into a development framework?

Our primary goal is to use WebRTC to improve the user experience for our own voice services, like ÜberConference.  At some point we may decide to make elements of these solutions available to developers in the form of APIs, but we don’t have any current plans for this.

13. Why do you think WebRTC is a game changer? 

It’s simple, high-quality audio, and it’s free!  We are big believers in the power of simplicity. Not having to download separate apps to do RTC could really open up some great communication experiences right in the browser.

14. How will the PSTN or SIP interact with WebRTC/HTML5?

WebRTC will expand the universe of Internet-enabled devices that can easily communicate with each other with high quality audio and video.  SIP has played an important role in enabling devices like ATAs and software on computers and mobile devices to communicate with each other and phones on the PSTN network.  WebRTC will make these communications even easier by default.

15. Who should attend WebRTC Expo and how will they benefit?

Anyone who is serious about communications should be there. We will be!

Edited by Braden Becker


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