Light Reading

WebRTC: A Double-Edged Sword for Telcos

James Crawshaw
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
James Crawshaw
7/10/2014
50%
50%

WebRTC (Real-Time Communications) is bringing a significant change in the communications landscape that will bridge the web and telephony worlds.

This poses both an opportunity for and a threat to telecom operators. The threat is clear: Consumers and enterprises could turn increasingly to the web for their voice and video communications, dispensing with traditional public switched telephony network (PSTN) services. However, voice-over-IP (VoIP) is not a new threat and, in many ways, WebRTC is more of a threat to existing over-the-top (OTT) players such as Skype than it is to telcos.

By enabling voice and video communication directly in the browser, users will be able to dispense with dedicated applications such as Skype and plugins such as Flash. But perhaps the most powerful thing about WebRTC is that voice and video telephony applications can now be developed in JavaScript, a programming language understood by millions of developers, unlike voice and video networking protocols. Hence, WebRTC has the potential to enable armies of developers to create their own real-time communications apps in a way that has not been hitherto possible with alternative frameworks such as RCS/joyn.

While the opportunity for JavaScript developers is clear, the opportunity for telcos is less obvious. At its most basic, WebRTC enables telcos to easily launch OTT services of their own, cannibalizing their traditional telco competitors in the process. (See WebRTC in the Wild and What WebRTC Means for Telcos.)

But perhaps more creative ways of exploiting WebRTC and tying it into traditional PSTN services can provide differentiation for the telecom operators. Alternatively, we may see a bifurcation of the industry into utility-like companies that supply bandwidth packages and communication service providers that ride on top of the utility infrastructure and manage the customer relationship.

Ubiquitous browser support and debates over video and signaling technology have stymied WebRTC somewhat. Chrome and Firefox are fairly WebRTC-compliant, but IE and Safari are not (yet). This lack of support is due in part to technology debates about video codecs and signaling; in part it is due to the threat WebRTC poses to Microsoft's and Apple's existing communications services (Skype, Lync, FaceTime, iMessenger). The W3C standards process might seem somewhat chaotic compared to the more consensus-driven approach of telecom standards. However, web standards move at a faster pace than telecom, and while that might lead to some interoperability issues along the way, ultimately WebRTC should evolve into a robust technology.

The new Heavy Reading Insider, "WebRTC: Get Ready for the Next Telecom Revolution," examines the emerging WebRTC standard, looks at WebRTC applications for both the consumer and enterprise markets, discusses some of the hot technological debates surrounding the standard, and some of the technical challenges that remain to be solved. The report also profiles 11 tech companies that are addressing the WebRTC opportunity with solutions for both telecom operators and enterprises.

— James Crawshaw, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider


WebRTC: Get Ready for the Next Telecom Revolution, a 25-page report, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,995. This report is available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/insider.

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Infostack
50%
50%
Infostack,
User Rank: Moderator
7/11/2014 | 3:54:43 PM
4Us of Demand
Putting aside the questions around the 4Cs of supply (cost, coverage, capacity, and clarity/QoS), can we rate WebRTC along the 4Us of demand:

-user-interface

-usability

-uibiquity

-universality

Answering these 4 or 8 issues critically will tell us whether network effect occurs and whoever invests in WebRTC can generate ROI.  http://bit.ly/xDbQaR
PaulERainford
50%
50%
PaulERainford,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/10/2014 | 8:58:07 AM
Come again?
Respect due to James for flagrant use of the word 'bifurcation'. Who needs Readers Digest - boost your vocabulary with Light Reading. Something to do with shellfish, right?
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
To thrive in the Internet age, operators must transform themselves from 'communications service providers' into 'digital service providers.'
Survey says telcos see increased network flexibility and service agility as the primary benefits of the New IP.
In part 3 in a series of blogs on 'Accelerating NFV Implementation,' Caroline Chappell considers how the NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO) stack needs to work with OSS functions to operationalize NFV.
Mobile operators feel an urgency to virtualize the EPC, and are exploring a variety of ways to move forward, on an ambitious timeframe.
Despite all the work that has already been put into defining and developing use cases, many service providers think more attention needs to be paid to the economics of SDN and NFV.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Business Sense of SDN

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
LRTV Custom TV
It's (Real) Time for Analytics

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (7) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (1) comment


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones