The non-Telecom Side of WebRTC Data Channel

Connected Data Peers in WebRTCGet rid off servers, save bandwidth! Easy to say, hard to realize. Swarmify, Viblast, Peer5, StreamRoot and Pipe focus their efforts on data transmission of video images and/or file transfer. These innovative start-ups have begun to launch their commercial products in 2014. Their forceful argument? WebRTC data channel uses peers to send data, creating opportunities for innovation and lower cost content distribution without the need for a browser plug-in.

Data channel gets ignored: Such a pity

There are more and more companies dealing with WebRTC but not many of them are looking at the data channel. Many of those who are using it are looking at it as an add-on to voice and video communications services. This is mainly because early adopters of WebRTC are coming mainly from the VoIP and telecom market. Many try to force it into their existing approaches instead of creating new services with it. Some have taken WebRTC to new domains and utilized only the benefits of its data channel part:

  • Peer-to-Peer communication
  • Zero download of plug-ins
  • Secured/encrypted communication

“WebRTC data channels has given developers new possibilities to interact on the web, and we think the biggest innovations will come from this area as WebRTC will become more mainstream” explains Nikolay Rodionov, co-founder of StreamRoot, a French startup providing peer-to-peer video distribution service. The start-up has three pilot customers (France Television, Orange, L’equipe) and claims to reduce bandwidth cost by 50% to 90% thanks to its video streaming technology and adaptive bitrate streaming tool. “Since video calling does not require a data channel to work, it gets largely ignored. Such a pity, since there are many interesting use cases of the data channel that would solve real world problems” says Peter Bojkov, COO of Viblast, a Bulgarian start-up providing scalable video streaming solutions.

Not only video streaming

Other startups are using the WebRTC data channel for a wider set of content distribution use cases. Swarmify recently launched their first commercially available service utilizing WebRTC to distribute website video and images. Pricing plans span from free to paid Enterprise grade options. “Free plans allow users to test Swarmify. It allows them to understand Simultaneous Connections and how this number can reduce their content distribution costs by using our service. Many customers are saving 50% to 75%“ stated Jesse Delia, Swarmify Partner. Peer5, a Palo Alto start-up, redesigned its platform so it would be useful for many use cases, not only video streaming, but also audio, games, image delivery and file transfer.
The new peer5 downloader is now out in beta. “Why are we doing all of this? Many developers had asked us to help them deliver their web apps, but unfortunately our solution was only for video.
Video is cool, but there are so many other varieties of media, and we wanted to provide a more inclusive and generic web peer-to-peer platform.
Our service is helpful in scenarios that require high bandwidth and great performance, and now it’s as encompassing as ever” explains Hadar Weiss, Peer5 Co-Founder and CTO. Pipe, a Berlin­based startup has brought the latest WebRTC technology to its peer­to­peer file transfer service on Facebook. The Pipe app allows people on Facebook to connect by sending and receiving files up to 1 GB in a way that is simple, fast, private and secure. According to Simon Hossell, Founder & CEO of Pipe. “This is ground­breaking technology, essentially re­wiring the Internet. WebRTC allows us to connect and communicate directly with each other through the computer browser ­ peer­to­peer ­ instead of exchanging data with remote third-party web servers.” Pipe was first made available on Facebook in June 2013, based on Adobe Flash. The new Pipe app has been completely rebuilt using JavaScript and integrating WebRTC, instead of Flash. This was also an opportunity to simplify the user experience and make the app more robust and reliable.

CDNs and content owners are moving to Peer-to-Peer

CDN service providers and content owners are bearing increasing cost as video becomes more and more pervasive. Some such as Netflix are already making their way towards this direction. WebRTC data channel can be a solution for this need; companies in this space create a network of peers that off-load the servers when possible and save significant cost. What is your experience with WebRTC data channel? Let us know in the comments below or contact us.

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