WebRTC: A Double-Edged Sword for Telcos
James Crawshaw, Senior Analyst OSS/BSS Transformation, Heavy Reading
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.
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.