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Speakers and Sponsors Lineup Continues

A little more than a month to go until the opening of the WebRTC Conference in Paris, the largest and first WebRTC conference in Europe. Speakers and sponsors continue to lineup on our agenda making it a colorful event so I thought it is time to give an update and share the new things planed for the event.

Before continuing with the details on that I would like to remind you that we launched a survey about WebRTC last week. We are holding a raffle of 2 Amazon Gift Cards, 50 USD each so hurry up and fill-in your answers. Results will be published next week.

Link to the survey….

Colorful lineup of speakers and sponsors

Regarding the agenda, a new topic was added to the training, ORTC. This presentation will be given by Philipp Hancke from &YET. On top of that there will be another session about ORTC by Antón Román Portabales from QUOBIS. This session by Anton will be on the 3rd day of the conference. After participating in these 2 sessions you will well up to date with what is happening in this domain and the new announcement of Microsoft.

We are also starting to finalize the list of companies that will present their solutions as part of the conference demo sessions. Currently the list includes:

  • Browsetel
  • Videotion
  • NG Media
  • Meetingreat
  • Apidaze
  • Mashmee
  • Quobis
  • StreamRoot
  • Electronic Art

Awards will be given in the following categories:

  • Innovation award
  • Best of show
  • Data channel award
  • Audience choice best of show

We have a nice list of sponsors and exhibitors, the event is growing compared to last year and we are expecting some interesting additions in a short while.

A few of the last additions to this list include:

  • Oracle
  • Broadsoft
  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • matrix
  • ESTOS
  • Artesyn
  • unltd.fm

The addition of these companies enriches the list with both large and mature companies as well as new startups that offer new, non-telecom services such as the one of http://unltd.fm/ I touched before in my post WebRTC Rocks for Music.

I would like to take this opportunity and invite you to take another look at the agenda as things have been added to it. Additionally, you are welcome to visit our blog and Webinars page. Past Webinars cover areas of WebRTC standards, WebRTC for Telcos and tips for building your own WebRTC service.

We are happy to accept ideas from companies interested to conduct Webinars with us as well as blog posts.

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Webinar Heads-up: WebRTC from the Service Provider Prism

At the end of September I hosted Dean Bubley for a Webinar talking about what WebRTC means for service providers, its possible impact on them and the way they do innovation.

In the next Webinar will be looking again at the service providers but from a different angle. We will discuss the impact of WebRTC on service providers and the services they should be providing. The Webinar will take place on October 23rd and this time we will have 2 speakers, one of them representing a service provider.

WebRTC from the Service Provider Prism

As we are having our final internal discussions and presentation fine-tuning to be ready for next week I thought this is a good time to give some heads-up on what you should expect to hear on this Webinar.

What to expect

First speaker is Victor Pascual Avila who is already well known here on the Upperside Webinars. Victor who works closely with vendors and service providers will give his view about the challenges WebRTC imposes on service providers. He will discuss the developers needs and in this context, API integration with existing systems.

To this we will add the actual view of a service provider presented by Sebastian Schumann. Sebastian from Slovak Telecom will review the actual approaches Slovak Telecom has taken to WebRTC, both in IMS and non-IMS scope.

As an opening, I will review the different approaches service providers can take with WebRTC and where value can be realized.

As always, we will have a few poll questions and share their results.

I invite you to take a minute and register for one of the 2 live sessions we will have on October 23rd.

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WebRTC MTI Video Codec: More is Less

Webinar Poll Results Different From My Opinion

Last week I held the second Webinar in the series of WebRTC Webinars for Upperside Conferences. This time it was with Victor Pascual Avila who gave an update about standards. We had 2 live sessions, one in the morning EMEA time and second in the morning US time.

In case you missed it, slides are available as well as the recording.

Keeping things simple requires complicated effortPrior to the Webinar I wrote about the areas WebRTC standards cover and more importantly, why it is good WebRTC defines only the minimal must requirements, As an opening to the Webinar, I presented that diagram and spoke about the “Less is More” advantage in WebRTC standards.

In a nutshell, we want any WebRTC application to run in any WebRTC enabled browser, thus, W3C standardization work is important.

Additionally, we want one WebRTC implementation to work with any other WebRTC implementation and therefore definition of transport, security and media codecs are important, AKA, work done in IETF.

Since WebRTC is built with Web in mind and for the Web, similar to other Web technologies, the way the browser communicates with the server, structures data exchanged and acts upon that data is in the hands of the application.

This is how innovation thrusts.

Poll Question: What should be the mandatory video codec in WebRTC?

After Victor spoke about the different point of views of vendors and segments on the mandatory to implement (MTI) video codec in WebRTC we presented this poll question. Options to choose from were:

  • H.264/H.265
  • VP8/VP9
  • Both should be mandatory
  • There should be no mandatory video codec
  • Don’t care, just make up your mind…PLEASE

To my great surprise, in both sessions, the majority (around 40%) selected option 3.

The need for a mandatory video codec

The preferred option for connecting a session is with media flowing directly between the 2 browsers. In some cases, due to FW/NAT complexities, there is a need for media to go through a TURN server. In both of these options media flows securely between the browsers and even when there is a need for a forwarding server in-between, it doesn’t (and can’t) touch the media, decrypt it or transcode it.

Achieving this requires both browsers to support the same codec.

If they don’t, a transcoding server will need to be placed in the middle, be part of the communication breaking privacy and overloading servers with CPU intensive transcoding and media decrypt/encrypt tasks.

Considerations for selecting the mandatory video codec

There are a few parameters to take into consideration when selecting the MTI codec:

  • Quality
  • HW support
  • License
  • Royalties
  • Porting
  • Future codecs

 

Quality

All in the eyes of the beholder there are different comparisons and opinions depending to a large extent on what camp/company one is part of.

In my eyes, both options are of good enough quality. I don’t see a significant enough difference that would make the decision lean towards one option over the other as long as comparison is apples to apples (VP8 to H.264 and VP9 to H.265, network conditions and additional resiliency tools).

At the end of the day, the WebRTC MTI video codec decision is more of a business decision rather than a technical one.

HW support

H.264 is the standard codec used today for real-time communication. As a result of that, it is supported in many chipsets and mobile devices. This in turn allows for HW acceleration of the CPU intensive encoding and decoding tasks but that is right only for some of the devices and surely not for Apple devices.

On top of that, if an application wants to connect between a WebRTC client and a traditional video conferencing/UC client H.264 will probably be the codec found on the latter.

Having said that, chipset vendors are adding VP8 support as it is already supported by Imagination Technologies, the vendor providing this IPR to most of those vendors.

VP9 is also making its way to HW devices so this gap is about to be closed.

On the traditional video communications front, vendors are adding VP9 as an additional codec but that may take time.

License

Both H.264 and VP8 come with a permissive BSD license.

Google took care of that for VP8 and Cisco took on the challenge to open source H.264.

For the next generation codec, VP9 and H.265 it is a different story.

Google continues the same path of BSD open source for VP9. H.265 on the other hand comes as GNU GPL 2.0 or via a commercial license.

Royalties

Patents and royalty payments are one of the key questions to ask. As WebRTC lives in the world of the Web it is required to allow any developer to build his application without the need to worry about patent infringement. This includes not only applications that run in the browser but also mobile and other devices as they all need to interwork.

VP8 – Google made VP8 royalty free and handled all the patent issues. New issues may come-up once in a while but Google is committed and big enough to solve them. The royalty free “feature” comes with no strings attached, you can port the codec to any platform and still enjoy the Google umbrella.

H.264 – Cisco has also committed to free developers from the H.264 patent burden but the story here is different as in order to seek shelter under the Cisco umbrella you must use their binary package. This works well for browsers but what if I’m developing a mobile application and want the codec to be part of it? What if I want to port the codec to an embedded device and make changes to the codec? In these cases the developer will need to bear the royalties of H.264.

The work Cisco has done for freeing H.264 is well explained by Cullen Jennings in this video.

VP9 – Google has gone the same path.

H.265 – No indication for a similar arrangement by Cisco or others.

Porting

Since all 4 codecs come in some sort of open source license it is technically possible to take the code and port it yet licensing and royalty considerations apply as detailed above.

Future codecs

The decision between VP8 and H.264 will have a good chance to impact the decision of the future codec (VP9 or H.265) and therefore the considerations and differences detailed above (mainly in the licensing and royalty front) must be taken into consideration.

Mandating both is a bad option

So we agree there needs to be a decision.

We reviewed the different parameters to consider.

Why not go for both as the majority of the audience on the Webinar recommended?

There will be no need for a server in the middle to transcode and break privacy.

The 2 browsers will always be able to negotiate which codec to use and life will be great.

Not exactly!

Forcing the implementation of both H.264 and VP8, and in the future H.265 and VP9 increases complexity. WebRTC is open source and it will find its way into different types of devices, including proprietary embedded devices (think of a WebRTC enabled sensor, camera or medical device).

Moreover, licensing and royalty/patent issues will arise in some cases for H.264, and based on current status, in all cases for H.265.

Conclusion

Having H.264 added to the browsers can be a good thing. It will still be royalty free and will avoid transcoding and privacy breach needs in cases where connecting to traditional video communication systems. Additionally, it will eliminate the need to download it as some sort of plug-in in cases the application vendor decides to use it.

Having said that, adding H.264 voluntarily to the browser doesn’t mean H.264 needs to become mandatory.

My choice for MTI would be VP8/9 accompanied with a strong recommendation to add H.264/265 when possible and this is due to 2 simple reasons:

  • Licensing and royalty considerations are extremely important for allowing proliferation of WebRTC applications and services. This alone is a good enough reason
  • VP8/9 is becoming the video codec of the web and that is the natural environment of WebRTC
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WebRTC 2014 Conference Coming to Life

We are shifting gears in preparation for WebRTC 2014. Now that the agenda is public, it’s time to tell you a little bit about the plans for the conference and a few new things that we believe will make the 2014 conference event better than the one of 2013.

WebRTC 2014 Conference LocationThe conference agenda itself was built a bit differently this year as will be described below. Additionally, we added some supporting tools to the conference so people can benefit from content and present their ideas along the year and not only during conference days. There is now a series of Webinars taking place and a blog that was just launched (well, that is where you are reading this post). There will also be a networking tool available for conference attendees so it will be easier to find the people you want to meet.

To wrap all of that nicely, the conference location has changed and it will be in central Paris.

Starting the planning phase

Soon after the end of the WebRTC 2013 conference I was invited by the organizers to lead the committee of 2014 and help in building the conference content and supporting tools. We started forming the conference committee and collected ideas for topics to put on the agenda.

Decision was to have a mix of sessions we would define as mandatory topics to have in the conference agenda while leaving enough room for topics coming mainly from service providers and small startups, things we didn’t think of ourselves and we found interesting.

As a result of this, we managed to get some interesting topics and speakers into the agenda.

The agenda

The training itself will comprise 3 topics:

  • WebRTC state of the market by Tsahi Levent-Levi
  • WebRTC standards update by Dan Burnet and Victor Pascual Avila
  • Data channel workshop by Lubomir Chorbadjiev, CTO of Viblast

The training will be in a technical level right to cater product managers, technology leaders such as architects and CTOs and business people. It is not only for hard-core developers.

At the beginning of the conference we will have a nice lineup of independent industry analysts and consultants I will be bugging through the opening panel to get a wide perspective on what startups, vendors and service providers are doing with WebRTC.

This will come after the traditional opening of Dean Bubbly who will share with us his results of his study about WebRTC statistics and numbers.

On the service provider front there is also a nice lineup of speakers who will present and participate in a panel moderated by Alan Quayle.

We will have series of presentations dedicated to the service provider and enterprise segments as well as more general sessions including:

  • WebRTC SaaS and server side components
  • WebRTC use cases with a few innovative startups
  • A bit more technical sessions on WebRTC 2.0 and ORTC, identity management and the data channel
  • W3C representative’s perspective on the impact of WebRTC on the Web

On the demos front some changes were made this year as well. We will have a dedicated demo session with a few demos of data channel startups. In addition to that there will be demos of communications services but don’t expect to see only the traditional talking heads demos.

There are a few surprises up our sleeves currently in planning so all in all; we believe this will be an interesting conference. You are invited to take a closer look at the agenda and contact us for any question about the conference.

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WebRTC Standards: Why are They Important?

A year a go I wrote a post talking about Where Standards Matter for WebRTC. As Victor Pascual Avila and I are getting ready for the WebRTC Standards Update Webinar I thought it is a good time to get back to this topic and look at it from a different angle.

Where are the standards when it comes to the Web

There are many misconceptions about what exactly is in the scope of WebRTC and what isn’t. As a result of that, there are different opinions about the parts in WebRTC that should be standardized. This arises mainly when speaking with VoIP and telecom people as we (yes, I’m one of them) are used to the case where everything is standardized, from top to bottom.

Looking at this in perspective of the Web. When a Web developer builds an application there is only one area where standards apply to him, the things that need to run in the browser (i.e. HTML, CSS and JavaScript). Browsers must be compatible in this area, implement the same APIs and yield the same user experience. How information that is exchanged between the browser and the server is structured is completely up to the developer building the application.

This reality of a closed client-server world with standards for client side implementation that allows users to use whatever browser they choose is one of the things that enabled the speed of change and innovation we are all used to in the Web. This stands in contrast to the slow rate of advancement in the telecom world where all needs to be standard.

WebRTC is all about the Web

Taking the Web application example above and implementing it for WebRTC makes it seem very clear that communication between the client and the server doesn’t need to be standardized. How SDP, session context information, user specific data… are sent from the browser to the server is rightfully left for the application, as every application will have different requirements.

Having said that, things related to making sure WebRTC will run on all browsers must be handled through standards. This part will be the main focus of our coming Webinar.

WebRTC Architecture

The diagram above shows this quite clearly. The areas in WebRTC that are and should be standardized are only those related to the interfaces and capabilities of WebRTC itself. This in essence means:

  • The JavaScript APIs (northbound) – this makes sure a WebRTC application will run in any browser that supports WebRTC
  • On the wire protocols – in essence, this is how voice, video and data streams are exchanged peer-to-peer between browsers. Examples of such are transport protocols, security mechanisms chosen and mandatory voice and video codecs. If this wasn’t standardized, communication between browser of brand A would need to go through some mediation box in order to communicate with browser of brand B

If you are interested in hearing more about WebRTC standards, what are the latest advancements and what is still underwork join us for this free Webinar. To accommodate as many time zones as possible we will have 2 live sessions so head over to this information page and register for the one that best fits your preference.

If there are specific topics you would like to be covered in the Webinar or questions you would like to be answered please feel free to Contact Us.

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