WebRTC Expert Feature

July 15, 2013

Why Our Marketing Hype is Right and Our Friends are Wrong

The recent WebRTC event was amazing, as evidenced by the large number of old friends who were there and who made it a point to mention that it reminded them of the old Atlanta VoIP days. Phil did a great job organizing the event, and as is so typical of his conscientiousness and methodical outlook, he is seeking feedback in planning the next event. 

To wit, one of our friends made the comment, “perhaps an effort should be made to tone down the hyperbole…claiming WebRTC will change everything is a little silly.” Of course, with the benefit of cynicism born of history and 20/20 hindsight, striving for a contrarian view to the hype is certainly understandable. Let me offer a historical reminder, though, of what we all went through the last time we took Atlanta by storm. 

At one time Atlanta was the gathering point for quite a few annual telephony super events. The carriers and their manufacturers would have a love fest looking over everything from CEV for copper plant distribution to Fiber optics frame interfaces, lots of plumbing, and lots (and lots) of specialized hardware. Now, certainly VoIP cannot take credit for all the changes, but the combination of chips, Ethernet, fiber, and IP represent the baseline that changed voice from a service to an application.

Gone now, though, are the shows that featured all of that hardware, the primary reason being the replacement of specialty boxes with a series of 1U pizza boxes that accomplish what a rack of frames and pigtails had to manage in the past. And as we have moved away from that hardware – as friends at the IETF predicted we would – we extracted the layer 2 into IP and changed everything.   If at this point in time your voice is not being converted to a packet within the network, my guess is you are calling your neighbor next door on a rotary phone (and even if rotary is your phone of choice, if your call is moving through the local central office you are mostly likely packetized anyway). And if you are browsing the Internet, you probably are not on a dial-up modem at this point, so everything has changed.

And now comes WebRTC.

If everything has already changed and WebRTC delivers voice to the web, then it deserves to be considered a game changer. As an old Bellhead I have seen the network change several times, and like my cynical friends I clearly see a WebRTC scenario in which it delivers nothing more than just the same old telephone services. Even if that is the case, though, it will have been part of the experience that changes everything. As such, Phil is correct in trying to embrace the entire market regarding WebRTC, as it truly is a much broader spectrum than anyone can imagine. 

I look forward to being on the West Coast for the next event, and I think the web world is going to shock us with their views.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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