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September 14, 2012

Carriers May Find New Opportunities with WebRTC

WebRTC is not necessarily a threat for carriers. Its innovative approach and expected widespread use may provide them with many opportunities in an already competitive marketplace.

However, it is clear that WebRTC technology will impact carriers, as well as Over the Top (OTT) vendors.

WebRTC promises to improve communications. Currently, there are many communication limitations in place. Tsahi Levent-Levi, director of Business Solutions at Amdocs, explained in a recent Vision Mobile blog post that if an OTT user wants to communicate in real time, he/she needs additional software. Also, users can’t connect across different services, so someone can’t call a Skype user from Viber, Levent-Levi said.

But WebRTC lets developers build real-time communication into Web pages. It also lets browsers make calls from a PC or phone. Specifically, it also allows for VoIP applications in any browser. It’s being developed to be part of the HTML5 standard. Skype IDs, phone numbers, e-mail address will not be required; users will not have to subscribe to a service, Levent-Levi said.

WebRTC’s origins came after Google acquired Global IP Solutions (GIPS). Using the technology, Google then developed WebRTC. WebRTC is open-sourced, and free, while Google is not charging royalties.

Because it became a part of standards, it is expected to be widely adopted and often found in the browser. WebRTC can be used in any real -time communication settings.

“WebRTC is all about real-time communication from within the web browser, and it’s a crucial part of Google’s strategy because it reduces the barriers of developing rich communication applications by having legions of web developers exposed to WebRTC as a free technology,” Levent-Levi said.

Adding, “These web developers will take voice and video services into new domains with new use cases, expanding the richness of communication and making it easier than ever before to start your own VoIP service using WebRTC…. The real value for Google lies in allowing them to serve more ads and mine more insights out of people’s browser behavior – these are things that Google treasures. Such a move can weaken Microsoft along with its Skype acquisition and hurt Apple’s FaceTime service.”

Under the current model, OTT vendors earn revenue from widespread use of their system, and do not want users to interact with OTT services offered by competitors.

On the other hand, some startups are offering services now using WebRTC, such as: Bistri, Cloudeo, FrisB, TenHands and TokBox.

Carriers – who as network operators have seen competition from OTT players such as Skype – may be able to find new opportunities with WebRTC.

“However, in order to seize them, carriers will need to embrace the web developer community and deliver value to WebRTC-based applications and services…,” Levent-Levi said.

Some options he identifies are: session-based charging for WebRTC; merging RCS (Joyn) with WebRTC; assurance for quality of service, such as emergency calls; carriers could also provide server-side infrastructure to customers; offer a bridge between PSTN and GSM; and provide WebRTC signaling.

In fact, Levent-Levi says that AT&T, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and Orange are looking already into opportunities that arise from WebRTC.

Meanwhile, some industry observers predict that WebRTC promises to be a radical game-changer.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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