WebRTC Expert Feature

November 29, 2013

I Vote for WebRTC Reciprocal Compensation

At IETF 88 (Nov. 3-8) the gathered masses were H.264 supporters while the diaspora on the web were inclined toward VP8. In an attempt to deal with the issue of “must carry” for video support, the IETF has proposed a rare online vote. To have a voice in the process, though, a company has to be among those that have contributed to the message board, which is a rare occurrence for many of the smaller companies. Also, when messages are read in batch, when fault is found often a dispute has already been raised by someone else (and often more eloquently).  As such, a compromise has been set up so that those who have been on the message board but who have not been active can send a note to the working group chairs. 

Peter Dunkley shares his concern and post with me here:

The RTCWEB WG chairs have proposed the use of Instant-runoff voting to resolve the MTI issue. To me, the most controversial part of this is the proposal for selecting eligible voters.  The proposal is that anyone who posted on the RTCWEB list on or before 20 November 2013 or whose name appears on a WG session or interim meeting blue sheet should be able to vote.

The problem I have is that I fall into neither of these categories.  Due to money and time budgetary constraints I have not attended the meetings in person, but I have attended through Jabber whenever I could (even when the timing was anti-social for me).  Many of those who have attended the meetings in person have not contributed at all, but simply having their name on the sign-in sheets because their companies flew them in - but this means that they get a vote.

I would have no problem with the criteria for voting being that you have to have contributed on the list as this would fairly exclude both the in-person and online lurkers, but the current proposal unfairly benefits the larger companies with the budgets to send their people in person (whether those people contribute or not).

The mailing list thread on this topic is available here: http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/rtcweb/current/msg09909.html

Thus if you are an active member of the mailing list, I suggest you contact [email protected].

So here is an interesting question for the rest of us. In Europe in particular, calls are often charged to the cost causer, as in a past attempt to cope with spam certain processing strategies were put in place that were aimed at making the process of spamming “costly” from a computational perspective. When it comes to the decision to support “must carry” for the WebRTC codecs now, though, who is the cost causer?

If you are a small company the answer is that the larger companies are cost causers, as they are looking to use H.264, a codec the big guys already support on a standard that was initially offered with a royalty-free codec. If you are one of these larger companies, however, you end up having to support yet another codec and probably have to enable transcoding if the “must carry” includes VP8.

So is there a good answer here? 

If the “must carry” applies to H.264 and the little guys are crushed by the cost, is it possible for the larger companies to assume the fee for solutions that meet a criterion?   Should the larger companies help enable the next Skype?

And as long as I have brought up Skype, the volume of Skype eventually justified the gateway costs to the carriers.  So should the larger companies accept the concept that VP8 collectively represents enough of the demand to make enabling the transcoding a given?

I came away from last week’s WebRTC Conference & Expo convinced more than ever that WebRTC does not necessarily require interoperability. Just as the browsers have a reference model that they deviate from, I am now thinking that to enable the innovation, the vote should be not on which codec needs to be a “must carry” but whether there should be a “must carry” at all. All of which would enable some of the browsers sitting on the sidelines to become more active in the mix as well.

What do you think?  Comment below or email me [email protected] and with your permission I will post your responses.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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