WebRTC Expert Feature

May 03, 2013

Google is Brilliant for Not Giving WebRTC a Signaling Protocol

I am an engineer now, but in my years in the Telco, I mostly stood between marketing (a thankless job in Wireline) and Regulatory. For that reason, my perspective is much broader than many of our friends that look at WebRTC.

Google has danced a fine line between the role of carrier and communications service. They offered Google Voice via third party carriers, they have done Google Talk as a non-Telco service, and they have delivered a communication OS via other manufacturers (Motorola’s first Google-specified phone is rumored to be coming early 3Q). Also, Google deployed fiber in Kansas City and now Austin for information services - not for voice.

They have enough fiber & market cap that they could become a Telco with relative ease either as a green field or through acquisition.

 So why know Telco?

The answer is simple. Telco’s, even mobile ones, are experiencing pain in adjusting to the future. We can make a case that in the near future Telco’s are going to have to make more adjustments to the rules and regulations directed at them. 

You can make a case that Google has correctly identified where Telco’s will be in twenty years and is staying on a steady course towards that solution.

More importantly, they are looking to avoid being mired in the rules that are going to be adjusted in the near future. Emergency Services, Jurisdiction, Intercarrier Compensation, Numbering, and Taxes - all avoided by Google in the solutions they offer today.

Now comes WebRTC, a solution for voice and video. Google knows their goals are simple - get involved in our communications to better support search and information services. Like Google AdWords, they are willing to partner with any site and not try to make it about their site. After all, world domination can be done without having to conquer or divide; it can be done by enabling.

Now, if Google had put a signaling protocol into WebRTC, its use would have been identified for specific services. HTTP, MQTT or some of the data channel strategies would have kept it on the web, SIP and XMPP would have put WebRTC into communications. 

But, Google is building for where we will be. And like Switzerland, they are not offering an opinion.

Like Robert Frost, discussing the meaning of his poems. 

The telecom folks yell we should use SIP and Google says, “Fine.”

The Web folks say we are using HTTP and Google says, “Go Ahead.”

If you are developing with WebRTC, my greatest caution to you is that you should embrace all the signaling that is logical and not peg yourself with what existed.

If you want to build for the future, developing WebRTC with only one signaling protocol will limit your possibilities.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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