& cplSiteName &

SK Telecom Sounds Off on WebRTC

Sarah Thomas

When it comes to voice services, SK Telecom tends to be years ahead of the pack.

It was the first to launch voice over LTE (VoLTE). It was one of the few operators that built a successful Rich Communications Services (RCS) implementation, signing up more than 1 million customers in just 50 days. And now it's experimenting with WebRTC, or Real Time Communications, the open-source technology that can turn any supported browser into a rich communications engine. (See South Korea Hears First 4G Voice Service and SK Telecom Boasts 1M joyn.T RCS Users.)

Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) earns the distinction of being the first operator to launch a consumer-facing app over WebRTC, in the form of a chat room. But SK Telecom is testing the technology in its labs, preparing to improve its IMS-based technological infrastructure, and working with developers to build related services. (See NTT Opens a WebRTC Chat Room and WebRTC & the Rise of the WebCo.)

Light Reading caught up with Choi Jin-ho, manager of SK Telecom's ICT R&D division, to chat more about how SK Telecom is using WebRTC and where it sees the challenges and opportunities. Here's what he had to say.

On the hype around WebRTC: At present, I would like to focus more on implications WebRTC has. It represents a paradigm shift. The hype around its potential may be overblown or it may even fail to "cross the chasm" in the end. One certain thing, however, is that new versions of WebRTC will keep coming out anyway, and SK Telecom is also making preparations for it.

On the value of telcos in WebRTC: Telcos have long proven strong in RTC. Though many OTT companies have expanded their services in the area, telcos are still unrivaled for their technological prowess that has been accumulated and internalized through development and operation over an extended amount of time. One could see this by looking at the heated response from external developers when we disclosed part of WebRTC that we were internally developing.

On SK Telecom's WebRTC play: For our part, we just uploaded WebRTC on the already-existing IMS infrastructure, but developers showed more interest and excitement than we expected. Of course, we still have to stay focused to create a development-favorable environment, so that developers can easily access and develop diverse services.

On SK Telecom's WebRTC roadmap: Though WebRTC is browser-based technology, its compatibility with browsers is still limited. Considering that the market is not mature yet, we are internally reviewing proper ways to address this limitation.

On the lack of support from Apple and Microsoft: If they do not support it, we will face numerous difficulties as of now. However, related services don't have to be limited to desktop and mobile browser. Diverse IoT devices installed with web browser will come to the market soon. The real value of WebRTC may be proven in completely new areas, such as IoT or wearable devices, that are not as heavily affected by Apple or Microsoft as the mobile area.

On achieving global interoperability: It is still up to whether companies like Microsoft and Apple would support it or not. Compatibility with video codecs is also a challenge that has to be solved. We believe other possible issues than this can be resolved, either in the market itself or in the communities of developers.

On co-existing with RCS and OTT: WebRTC will become a steppingstone to enable development of far more OTT and RCS services. At the same time, existing services, as well, can be upgraded with WebRTC.

On the WebRTC opportunity: It would not be productive to use well-established infrastructure of mobile carriers only for voice calling, text messages, and video calling. The robust infrastructure developed through service experiences will surely play a critical role in creating innovative services through technologies like WebRTC. This is believed to be the biggest competitiveness of telecommunications companies.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/15/2014 | 4:57:43 PM
First movers
Dean Bubley reminded me that NTT is not actually the first operator to launch a consumer-facing WebRTC service. Telenor and Telefonica also have them. More on that coming soon...
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/9/2014 | 1:32:29 PM
More to come
SK Telecom is always interesting to hear from as they are usually so far ahead of the competition. It sounds like webRTC is on the cusp for them. I bet we'll see a lot more apps forthcoming. I imagine most will be more enterprise focused than consumer too.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Wednesday, October 26, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Tackling DDoS
Gary Sockrider, Principal Security Technologist, Arbor Networks
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
Friday, November 18, 1:00PM EST
SDN & Open Source
Christopher W. Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Cyrille Morelle, VeEX's President and CEO, talks with Light Reading's Alan Breznick live from the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016. They discuss DOCSIS 3.1 technology, deployments and early lessons learned. New products on display include the CX350s-D3.1, CX380s-D3.1, CX310, AT2500-3G, FX150 OTDR and MTT WiFI Air Expert.
LRTV Custom TV
Smith Micro's Carrier-Grade WiFi Component

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Carol Wilson of Light Reading as she interviews the CTO of Smith Micro, Dave Sperling.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Trump: Dump AT&T/TW & Comcast/NBC
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/24/2016
T-Mobile: AT&T & TW Means Ma Bell Not Focused on Mobile
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/24/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
Verizon Wants More Data on Yahoo Breach
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
'Oh, Were You Looking for This?' Click Here
'I was just playing some games...'
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.