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
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.