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
Interest in the commercial drone industry is growing and technology is developing quickly. This is laying the foundation for a range of future drone-based applications, including the use of drones in communications networks.
The telecom industry's move to SDN and white box deployments is driving significant changes in the switch market. These changes will likely lead to lower capex and opex costs for network operators in the market.
Alcatel-Lucent is close to taking carrier Ethernet switch/router market-share leadership away from Cisco.
Communications network operators need to formulate an IoT strategy and decide if Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology has a place in those plans.
The industry faces a learning curve over the next five years. And as NFV and SDN take root in telecom networks, technology suppliers that establish strong partnerships and ecosystems will be in the best position to emerge as NFV/SDN market leaders.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
What if the Comcast Merger Fails?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/20/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/22/2015
Adtran Is Developing White Box GPON Tech
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/24/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Learning Curve Click Here
Pierre could never remember how to use Excel.
Latest Comment