& cplSiteName &

Moving WebRTC From Asterisk to Headline

Sacha Nacar
7/13/2015
100%
0%

Is WebRTC cool yet?

Amazon and Facebook are doing it; Microsoft is dreaming about it; even Hollywood has referenced it. It has seen a tremendous increase in popularity in the past few years with the creation of Meetups, dedicated hackathons and services.

However, WebRTC is still perceived as difficult for mainstream developers (read: hipsters with MacBook pros sipping soy Frappuccinos at workshop cafés in SOMA) as one of the lesser-used Javascript Web APIs in these groups. Why isn't WebRTC as popular as, say, WebGL? Why isn't everyone adding voice, data-channels and video to their services? What can be done to attract more developers to integrate WebRTC?

The issue here is that WebRTC is not yet a polished technology. At its core, WebRTC is a disruptor to the telephony industry. And like every industry disruptor, it needs constant iteration to get past roadblocks.

Though WebRTC is a set of JavaScript APIs, integrating WebRTC in your app is not a matter of simply adding a few HTML5 tags or copy-pasting some lines of JavaScript code. It is an entire environment, which needs to be set up. Web developers beginning to work with WebRTC need to understand multidisciplinary concepts that are often out of their grasp: codecs, gateways, signaling frameworks, STUN/TURN servers, mobile SDKs, unsupported browser fallback and much more.

So how can developers work together as a community to eliminate these roadblocks? I've listed a few of the top things I think need to happen for WebRTC to become what it deserves to be -- the most widely used Web API.

Send network operators and telcos to the rescue!
Network operators have resources, and know how to use them to take care of the difficult telco implementations. Network operators should expose the hard VoIP parts (TURN Servers, Gateways, etc.) as APIs for developers to access. This way, web developers can focus on what they do best: integrating APIs. At the same time, this would enable telcos to enhance their API onboarding and developer community interest.

Some great examples of companies doing this are, for instance, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) opening its network for WebRTC use with its Enhanced WebRTC API. Matrix.org and OnSIP (SIP.js) offering no-brainer signaling frameworks and libraries for developers to use with JavaScript. Hosted TURN server solutions such as Xirsys eliminating the hassle a developer must go through to ensure their solution works everywhere.

Other non-telco companies, like TokBox Inc. or Twilio Inc. (NYSE: TWLO), focus on bringing these features to developers in the form of an end-to-end PaaS served over APIs. Hence, eliminating the headaches web developers would normally go through to launch their service.

Browser vendors get their act together
One of the primary benefits of WebRTC is the fact that plugins are not needed, and therefore developers could assume full compatibility of platform with their users' browsers with their platform. However, this is not yet the case, as only some major browsers have fully implemented WebRTC. Two of the most notable browsers left out of the picture are Safari and Internet Explorer. These holes in availability add to the complexity of a WebRTC implementation in terms of user experience, as there is no native consistency. While there are companies such as Temasys who provide plugins for those browsers that do not support WebRTC, it's up to the vendors to get their act together and jump on the consistency bandwagon (ahem, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)).

Big platforms need to advocate for WebRTC
Developers need to know they are not alone in these early days. The big names such as Facebook , Whatsapp, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Slack, need to vocalize the fact they are actively integrating WebRTC to their services and document their initiatives. Hey, why not open source some of that, too? If they become advocates for the technology rather than being secretive about it then maybe others will stop unmasking them!

The developer community unites!
The developer community all wants the same thing: for WebRTC to be easy. Developers from all over have come up with great initiatives like WebRTC For The Web," which is an association of developers that build useful tools for the community such as IsWebRTCReadyYet.com. These groups are a great start, and I expect that they will mark the starting point for some of the most exciting WebRTC contributions. In fact, I would love to hear readers' comments on any positive experiences with these groups to date.

Open source frameworks also play a big role in the community. Projects like peerJS and simpleWebRTC considerably lower the barriers of WebRTC development and provide an easy way for developers to get started and get advised.

More initiatives like WebRTC Hacks and WebRTC Experiment help foster a sense of "schooling" for the developer community. Why not setup online WebRTC courses on Codecademy or Coursera? Let's get universities involved in this!

Offline, we've seen the rise of TADHack, which are a series of hackathons focused on WebRTC's role in the telco environment. Events like these provide the perfect environment to learn and collaborate with the best (and with the telco vendors themselves). Also, more "Meetup" groups dedicated to WebRTC are created and we should work hard to promote them to a bigger audience. This is where telcos can step in and leverage their resources to help organize or fund such events.

While it is valuable to have these resources at our disposal, they are starting to pile up and it is becoming difficult to keep up with the various initiatives happening all around the world. As a community, we need to communicate better on a more united channel. At the same time, WebRTC contributors (Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Mozilla , Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) , World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) ) have to work to remove the current obstacles so that providing additional resources is not necessary. This way, WebRTC can truly become as easy as WebGL or any other Web API and, more importantly, become just as popular!

— Sacha Nacar, Developer Community Manager, Voxbone SA

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sacha Nacar
50%
50%
Sacha Nacar,
User Rank: Blogger
7/15/2015 | 3:51:10 AM
Re: WebRTC motivations...
Interesting points. Concerning the browser vs. mobile, do not get mixed up between desktop and mobile - browsers are also available in mobile phones, here's why it's relevant:

You have to keep in mind that technologies that enable developers to build mobile apps using JavaScript (eg. PhoneGap, Ionic, AngularJS) make the browser even MORE relevant to mobile development. This is because these apps can now actually run on a native mobile browser (invisible to the app users) and these browsers are becoming more and more powerful (eg. Chrome's V8). Therefore WebRTC voice/video IS the future of mobile.

Your second point is interesting because there is a very popular initiative, called Matrix.org, which is trying to fix this interop issues, here's a link: http://matrix.org/

 

 
brtechy
50%
50%
brtechy,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/14/2015 | 1:59:18 PM
WebRTC motivations...
The fact that WebRTC works on browsers without any plugin is indeed a great departure from traditional voice/video communication apps, but at the same time this helps there are two things to be observed. 

First is that voice on the browser will be less and less relevant than in the past, given that mobile has developed to a point where it is not only ubiquitous but also has the capability to deal with data which renders the browser, for communication purposes, a lot less needed (indeed it makes it a hurdle - a lot easier to use an app in Android or IOS)

Second is that one great benefit of WebRTC is still not only unexplored but maybe purposefully obstructed - open interoperability. If WhatsApp, Messenger, Google Talk, Skype, or any other service had open voice interoperability, it would make life a lot easier for users but diminish somewhat the network effect of each of the individual applications. 

If we look at the network operators attempts at looking at open standards such as Join we can have a flavor of why it did not take off. Some carriers have embraced (or almost) their own Join based communication apps, but the whole concept of an open standard using data to replace the traditional voice calls never really took off.

Having said data, with the prevalence of data and the rapid decline of traditional voice REGARDLESS of open interoperability on the data calls, WebRTC will likely still develop in ways we do not completely predict yet at this point.
Sacha Nacar
50%
50%
Sacha Nacar,
User Rank: Blogger
7/14/2015 | 11:20:23 AM
Re: What's in it for them?
Indeed! Facebook advocated for HTML5 back when they initially built their mobile app. They could also vocalize the fact they actively rely on WebRTC  for their Messenger service.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/14/2015 | 11:00:01 AM
Re: What's in it for them?
Oh, absolutely, having these capabilities by default in the browser is a big deal. Facebook and Google at least are both committed to delivering apps on the desktop through the browser rather than as standalone apps. Eliminating plug-ins reduces support costs. And many consumers simply will not and do not install additional software on their computers. So that makes WebRTC a big deal and it would be good for Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, et al to jump on and support it. 
Sacha Nacar
50%
50%
Sacha Nacar,
User Rank: Blogger
7/14/2015 | 3:56:18 AM
Re: What's in it for them?
Tsahi is right, though it may seem that WebRTC is not a revolutionary technology (because we've always been able to do audio and video over the web), the fact that plugins are not required to be downloaded from the user anymore is huge. It changes the game completely as service providers can just assume that any of their user has access to that audio/video service - that's a huge step for conferencing user experience.
Tsahi Levent-Levi
100%
0%
Tsahi Levent-Levi,
User Rank: Lightning
7/14/2015 | 3:34:41 AM
Re: What's in it for them?
First of all, it reduces the time it takes them to add real time communications to their service. It may not seem like much, but it is.

The other thing is that it opens up the capability for them to support this directly from the browser without a need to install anything. For Facebook that's priceless.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/13/2015 | 12:13:45 PM
What's in it for them?
What's in it for Facebook, Amazon, WhatsApp, Apple and Microsoft? How does it help their business to support WebRTC?
More Blogs from Column
As the industry looks to aggressively ramp up NFV efforts, it becomes critical for strong and interoperable industry standards to eliminate vendor lock-ins and create a marketplace for best-in-breed services.
Today's telcos and communication service providers are more vulnerable to large-scale DDoS attacks than ever.
But this story will take years to write.
A few myths have emerged about microservices that need to be addressed, says Ciena's Abel Tong.
New and exciting methods of automation – whether virtualization, the cloud, IoT or even best practices like network segmentation – tend to emphasize innovation over visibility. As such, networks develop blind spots that mask network problems and even faulty devices.
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
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 Interviews
Masergy: It's Time for SD-WAN Options

6|28|17   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Paul Ruelas, director of network products for Masergy, explains how adding SD-WAN has changed the service mix for his company's customers. In some cases, the change is incremental, enabling more granular customer control. Masergy's newest version, SD-WAN Go, gives up some of those controls for a streamlined version targeting mid-sized customers with the most ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Ushers in the Revolutionary 5G Era

6|28|17   |   5:00   |   (1) comment


5G will bring job opportunities for women in telco and IT, as well as a whole new era of communications for consumers and industries of all kinds, says Caroline Chan, vice president and general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division at Intel.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX at ANGA COM

6|27|17   |     |   (0) comments


At ANGA COM 2017, Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX, updates Alan Breznick with VeEX's new products and technology. This includes VeSion cloud-based platform for network monitoring, AT2500-3G advanced spectrum analyzer and MTTplus-900 WiFi Air Expert module. He also comments on DOCSIS 3.1 deployment and Remote PHY technology.
LRTV Custom TV
The Overall Objective Is to Win the Game

6|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


SCTE•ISBE's Chris Bastian discusses Energy 2020's success to date and the importance of a flexible approach that allows for changes in specific strategies in order to reach significant milestones.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Does AT&T Deserve Time Warner?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/23/2017
Hulu Is Greatest Threat to Pay-TV Providers – Study
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 6/27/2017
Calix: Russo's Not-So-Overnight Success?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 6/28/2017
Verizon Takes 'One Fiber' to More Cities
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/22/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.