Light Reading

What WebRTC Means for Telcos

Sarah Thomas

The question of what WebRTC means for telcos has many different answers, but it's one question that they should all be trying to answer right now.

WebRTC is an open-source project started by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that enables developers to embed peer-to-peer real-time communications capabilities into supported web browsers. The standard, though not finalized yet, uses a JavaScript application program interface (API), which means that anyone can launch a voice and video-calling feature that works on the desktop and mobile web. Many pundits have called it the biggest innovation in communications since VoIP.

So that's the definition of WebRTC, but the key thing to remember is that there are anywhere from 20 to 50+ possible use cases, according to Disruptive Wireless analyst Dean Bubley. Each is very different, including in how it is brought to market and how much service provider involvement is required.

There are consumer-facing apps (see below), machine-to-machine implementations, enterprise use cases, internal applications, and IMS-integrated browser apps to replace the softphone, which Bubley says is the most talked about example, but also the most boring and slow moving.

"The interesting thing is there is no template yet for what carriers are doing in this space, as it should be," he says. "There are 101 different ways and different customers."

The WebRTC Landscape
Check out Genband CMO Brad Bush's blog for a larger view of the infographic.
Check out Genband CMO Brad Bush's blog for a larger view of the infographic.

It is easy to see why even the most basic WebRTC implementation would be an appealing proposition to any company with a call center or just one that works with consumers. When your customers find you though the web, click-to-call is the most direct way to get in touch. It becomes even more valuable when you can escalate a voice call to video without any interruption. (See Voxbone Tweaks Its Network for WebRTC .)

So far, several operators have dipped their toes into WebRTC in trials and actual implementations. Some early examples (of the boring variety) include:

Behind the scenes in WebRTC
Those are some consumer-facing examples, but they will likely not be the most common instances of operator involvement. Instead, they will play a role as the connectivity provider.

WebRTC is typically, but not necessarily, run as an extension to an IMS signaling core, so that if operators are connecting users via the web, they can ensure the quality and security of the call. This doesn't give them a consumer-facing function (like a lot of the operators want), but it's no less an important role for them to play.

The ephemeral picture site SnapChat's recent acquisition of AddLive, which offers a popular WebRTC API platform, illustrates why. Amir Zmora, vice president of alliances and partnerships at AudioCodes Ltd. (Nasdaq: AUDC), says that any company with its own web server can offer WebRTC, but it will have quality issues, especially if those servers aren't near where the call is being placed. Also, if the acquisition of AddLive taught the industry anything, it's that betting the farm on an API vendor that could suddenly vanish by way of acquisition isn't necessarily smart, even if it's willing to guarantee its code.

"Companies will move to the big ones, so a service provider that provides this type of service is something people will count on," Zmora says. "They know a Verizon, for example, will not disappear tomorrow, but a startup might be acquired or go belly up. There is a very good opportunity for service providers to provide the hosted backend for WebRTC."

Companies like call centers can't just rely on one-to-one calls. Connecting to an operator's infrastructure would enable them to connect via the SIP trunk or SBC anywhere in the world with quality and reliability in place.

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
7/4/2014 | 9:12:49 AM
Re: wireless OR cable
Hi SReedy,


Yes you did miss one call "Pexip"  I'm happy to provide insight if you find this platform intersting to write about.  We have the best most scalable and interoperable platform on the market.
User Rank: Light Beer
6/14/2014 | 6:55:58 PM
Re: wireless OR cable
In addition to our expert marketplace, LiveNinja now offers a B2B product called Katana which basically acts as a video call center in the cloud. Please check it out at

We also have a demo video here of it in action:

Great post Sarah!

User Rank: Light Sabre
6/7/2014 | 1:54:20 PM
Re: wireless OR cable
I wonder what this is going to mean for Skype? One would think that on desktops and laptops, it would move to a web-based client. They might not have a choice: With WebRTC making Skype-like features easy on the web, it challenges this incumbent. 

There's something to be said about network effects, however. I use Skype to connect with others usig Skype. That's hard behavior to change quickly. 
From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cisco's Chambers Rules Out Political Bid
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/6/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
AT&T Gets Green Light for VoWiFi
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/7/2015
AlcaLu Execs Lose Out as Nokia Unveils New Top Team
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/7/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here