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WebRTC: A Double-Edged Sword for Telcos
James Crawshaw | Contributing Analyst
WebRTC has the potential to enable armies of developers to create their own real-time communications apps in heretofore unheard-of ways.

While this is a definite opportunity, it is also a threat for telcos: Consumers and enterprises could increasingly turn to the Web for their voice and video communications, dispensing with conventional telecom services.
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WebRTC: Get Ready for the Next Telecom Revolution
WebRTC (Real-Time Communications) is, as anyone who points a Web browser to a search engine can tell you, an application programming interface (API) standard drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that supports browser-to-browser applications for voice calling, video chat and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing without plugins.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about WebRTC is that, when implemented in a Web browser, voice and video telephony applications can be developed in JavaScript. JavaScript is a programming language understood by millions of developers; voice and video networking protocols are not. 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 possible until now.

Another key advantage of WebRTC over existing voice over IP (VoIP) technology is that it can be contextualized. If this contextual information can reduce the time spent on the phone by a few tens of seconds, it will not only lead to a better customer experience, but it can also cut down on call center staffing requirements. However, not all Web browsers support WebRTC. Google's Chrome is perhaps the most WebRTC-compliant browser in its various versions (PC, Android). Mozilla's Firefox and Opera are nearly there. But Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari do not support WebRTC.

WebRTC is both an opportunity and a threat for telcos. The threat is clear: consumers and enterprises could increasingly turn to the Web for their voice and video communications, dispensing with conventional telecom services. However, PSTN bypass is not a new threat to carriers, and in many ways WebRTC is more of a threat to over-the-top (OTT) players like Skype than it is to telcos.

While voice and video over IP applications are already widely used, today they are enabled via dedicated software programs or clumsy browser plug-ins. These look set to be replaced by WebRTC in a similar way to how Web mail has supplanted dedicated email client software for the vast majority of consumers and a growing proportion of corporates. In its purest form, WebRTC involves the P2P communication between two browsers without the need for signaling or media servers. All the media processing is done locally on the PC or phone.

WebRTC: Get Ready for the Next Telecom Revolution provides a current view of the developing WebRTC environment, focusing on the nascent standard's likely impact on telecom operators. It examines the types of applications that are likely to develop using WebRTC technology, along with examples of some early-stage apps now available. The report identifies and analyzes WebRTC's primary threats and opportunities for telecom carriers, explains the key technology underpinnings of WebRTC, and details how those underpinnings differ from previous attempts to establish IP-based real-time communications, such as IMS. The report also presents an early-draft taxonomy of WebRTC vendors and profiles 11 leading suppliers in the market.
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (hri0614_toc.pdf)
Consumers are likely to adopt WebRTC services if they are free and easy to use. Monetization will depend on advertising and upselling premium services. However, the bigger dollar opportunity for developers is perhaps in the enterprise space. The following excerpt helps to frame the opportunity for WebRTC. Ultimately it is all about enterprises and consumers communicating with one another.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies analyzed in this report include: Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); Genband Inc.; Mavenir Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: MVNR); OpenCloud Ltd.; Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL); Dialogic Inc. (OTC US: DLGC); Radisys Corp. (Nasdaq: RSYS); BroadSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: BSFT); CafeX Communications Inc.; and TokBox Inc.
Total pages: 25
MAY 2014
IoT Platforms: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis
This report examines the strengths and challenges for IoT enablement platform developers. It explains why IoT has captured more attention from network operators, frames the vendor opportunity in IoT enablement and looks at the companies pursing IoT. The report ranks and profiles 10 companies in the network operator IoT space.
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Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
MAY 2014
CDN Operators Get Set for Some Major Changes
This report examines the CDN market in light of the major changes shaping it. It reviews the market's structure, including the role of carriers and MSOs, market shares of significant CDN providers, as well as current market trends and issues. Finally, the report profiles 13 market players with significant impact on this segment.
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Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
APRIL 2014
Virtual CPE: Virtually Ready to Cut Costs, Drive Revenue & Disenfranchise Vendors
This report looks at the state of development of CPE virtualization, reviewing latest thinking about what can be virtualized, how CPE might evolve and who is making the early running. It also profiles nine leading vendors in the virtual CPE market.
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Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Simon Sherrington
Simon is an independent consultant who contributes regularly to Heavy Reading Insider. He has 13 years of experience analyzing, reporting, and consulting on technology market trends.
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Simon Sherrington
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CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Danny Dicks
Danny is an analyst and consultant with over 20 years' experience in technology markets who contributes regularly to Heavy Reading Insider.
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Danny Dicks
CONTACT AUTHOR
ANALYST
Tim Kridel
Tim writes for both Mobile Networks Insider and Cable Industry Insider. He has previously covered the wireless and cable industries for a number of research firms, including Heavy Reading.
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Tim Kridel
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