WebRTC World Feature Article

November 29, 2012

WebRTC and Conferencing

With all the opportunities WebRTC presents, one of the most important is probably conferencing. As such, it’s no surprise that WebRTC Conference & Expo held a panel called “Conferencing with WebRTC,” in which the panelists discussed the current Web conferencing technology and how WebRTC will play into it.

The panel’s attendees were Scott Wharton of Vidtel, T.R. Missner of Firespotter Labs/Uberconference, and John Logsdon of NetDev/Drum. Each company is known for its Web conferencing applications, which they took time to speak about, explaining the benefits they provide and their individual capabilities.

When it comes to video conferences, there are several interoperability issues. There’s no universal standard yet, so while some use SIP, others use H.323 or proprietary standards. So while WebRTC can make video conferencing easier, it must also take advantage of what others are using. As nice as it would be for everything to work together, that’s not likely to happen any time soon; some companies, such as Vidtel, are working on interoperability with many conferencing solutions, but there are always those that will be unwilling.

There is also an issue of individual preferences. There are those used to room-based systems, and would prefer not to huddle around a screen, and those who like using browser-based applications. These must all be taken into account when thinking about video conferencing.

Still, the transition from audio to video calls is happening. The panelists noted its similarities to the transition from radio to television; while radios are still used, television is the norm for entertainment, just as video will become the norm for remote conferencing.

When it comes to monetization, there are and always will be free services, but they cannot compare to the benefits that paid ones offer. Better quality, more features, a dedicated staff, and so on, are all benefits that free programs can’t offer. Of course, money can also be made on free programs by purchasing options such as call recording, toll-free numbers, multi-conferences, and more.

WebRTC will have a large role to play in the future of conferencing. While not all are using it yet, it has started and cannot be stopped. This is a good thing, of course, and while some issues with interoperability will still remain, it’s clear that many companies are starting to move towards unity.

Edited by Rich Steeves


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