Deutsche Telekom Taking a Stab at WebRTC: An Interview with Joachim Stegmann

Joachim Stegman Deutsche TelekomI had the pleasure of speak with Joachim Stegmann from Deutsche Telekom about his current work and view on WebRTC.

Joachim works at T-Labs, DTAG’s research & innovation lab, leading the Future Communication team. He has been working on WebRTC related topics for more than two years now.

Let’s hear what he has to say about Deutsche Telekom WebRTC activities and plans.


What are the opportunities of WebRTC for an operator?

Many operators see WebRTC as a threat because the world of telecommunications is now open to the web. In fact, it is now easier for web companies to integrate real-time voice, video, and data communication as part of their web applications. It is expected that this will increase the decline in operators’ traditional voice and messaging revenues. However, these new OTT applications create new communication islands because signaling and interoperability are not within the scope of WebRTC. On the other hand, WebRTC has the potential to create new integrated service offerings.

In principle, the opportunities for an operator can be classified into two groups:

–        Enable interoperability between communication islands: combine different WebRTC ‘bubbles’ and connect them with the Telco networks. Let the user do all his communication from a single (web-based) application.

–        New business development especially in the B2B and B2B2C segments:  Enable integration of real-time communication into business customers’ web applications. Examples are innovative customer service solutions, unified communication and collaboration services, and web-based mobile VoIP applications.


What are your current projects and with which partners do you work?

Some projects in Deutsche Telekom are performed within the technology departments. The main objective of these projects is to test the integration of WebRTC gateways into the IMS networks. Some prototype solutions have already been implemented in different countries. Within T-Labs we focus on new innovation based on WebRTC. Together with other Deutsche Telekom business units we define disruptive business opportunities. Additionally, we are currently working on a generic technology framework for web based communication. Partners are suppliers of core technology as well as new startups in this field.


Do you target mobile services?

The number of mobile devices with WebRTC enabled browsers is increasing very fast. Although WebRTC technology is not optimized for mobile communication yet, we believe that many problems can be solved in the near future. As we get better 4G coverage in the next years, some of the quality issues will most likely disappear. The advantage is that we can create a real cloud-based mobile service that integrates communication with other mobile web services and can be accessed from any device.


What is the business case for you? Do you plan to open your future platforms to other customers?

The business potential is different for the evaluated use cases. E.g. in the B2C area we expect additional revenues from higher data consumption due to an increase in video communication while cost reductions can be calculated when introducing WebRTC in customer service. In the B2B area we can offer more attractive products that integrate real-time communication in business applications. Even in the area of content delivery networks or M2M solutions, WebRTC could play an important role. In the future, we will open our platforms for selected partners with attractive product and service offerings.


What are the current main drawbacks and brakes of WebRTC?

One well-known drawback is that WebRTC is not supported by some major browser vendors. Additionally there still is a dispute about the video codec (VP8 vs. H.264) with related patent issues. However, our feeling is that these challenges can be solved in the near future. In the meantime it is necessary to create workarounds for the desired applications.

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