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Bouygues Telecom WebRTC Prototypes, An interview with Patrice Crutel

Patrice CrutelPatrice Crutel is Senior Arcitect for Core and Service Network Layer at Bouygues telecom. He is deeply involved in WebRTC work at Bouygues and is also a regular contributor to our WebRTC yearly conference. I asked Patrice to give us details of current work taking place at Bouygues with regards to WebRTC.

Who are the industry partners they are working with?

How are they tackling the WebRTC for mobile challenge?

What are the obstacles to deployments they are dealing with?

How far along are you with your WebRTC projects and who are your partners?

Over the past few months, we have launched several in-house prototypes. They are being used by employees at Bouygues Telecom. Quobis and Ericsson helped us in designing these prototypes in our own lab. We are continuing to meet with various players in the webRTC domain (webRTC GW suppliers and also Unified Communication solution providers) as well as in web application development. We are making progress within the company on testing and enriching via applications revolving around webRTC.

Do you have any projects for mobile terminals?

Clearly it is a positive step to deploy WebRTC on all devices, main interest we see is to be able to access our services on tablet-type devises basically because they have greater capacity than mobile phones, mainly due to the larger screen. A mobile terminal is still “handicapped” by its small size and the battery.

As iPhone do not support ViLTE, webRTC could be seen as an alternative to offer video “natively”.

What do you see as the business case for WebRTC? For instance, do you intend to open your future platforms to other clients?

For the time being, we are not considering opening our platforms. Firstly we are concentrating on WebRTC’s contribution to the services proposed by an operator to its clients. The OTT (Over-The-Top) content providers are not out to make a profit on this type of service. But will operators be able to do so? They need to have differentiation, one of which is better QoS/QoE but there needs to be more than that. Therefore, we will look into how to make certain value-added services associated with WebRTC profitable.

What is the largest obstacle for the deployment of WebRTC?

What discourages us the most are the regular changes made by Google on its browser, which can lead to a loss of service for our subscribers. For an operator, this is inacceptable. There are also problems with the battery life of mobile devices. WebRTC applications are extremely energy-greedy. This aspect needs to be improved and we are following such developments closely.

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Interview with Michel L’Hostis from Apizee

Michel L'HostisAt our WebRTC conference in December I had a chance to speak with Michel L’Hostis, CEO of Apizee, about what they offering their customers and specifically about their partnership with AMA Medical. Below are the details from our discussion.

What is Apizee all about?

Apizee is a french IT startup specialized in the development of WebRTC solutions for websites and several enterprise applications such as diagnosis or CRM (customer relation management). The company was created in 2013 by Michel L’HOSTIS and Frédéric LUART, communications industry veterans. The company first developed a communication WebRTC cloud platform to offer live chat, voice and video services to websites and mobile applications. We also propose solutions packages for websites or enterprises usages:

  • IzeeChat: it is a live video chat solution. It allows to assist clients, visitors, to target clients and to manage the customer relation by using, chat, video and collaborative features without any plugins
  • IzeeDiag: it is the remote diagnosis solution. Technicians or clients can be linked instantly to expert to get advice and video diagnosis.
  • IzeeHealth: it is the IzeeDiag solution specialised for medical application such as medical consultation. Patients and doctors are able to exchange (chat, voice and visio, file sharing…) so that doctors are capable of diagnosing.
  • Izeelink: internal unified communications solution for any enterprise web site.
  • IzeeBroadcast: a live streaming and live communication solution. People can assist to a meeting even if they are not in the same room and they can also interact together (they can share files, discuss, …)

Apizee’s targets are retail websites, global companies (multinational), large-scale businesses operating in telecommunication sector, consumer goods, industries (especially for the diagnosis solutions), online services such as e-learning, insurances, public services (sickness insurance, tax on web…), medical sector… It is a great differentiation tool for high competition retail websites. Our solutions are used in North America, Europe and Asia.

Apizee RTC PaaS

What is the cooperation with AMA about? What is unique about this new offering from both companies?

AMA Medical is part of Studio AMA, an international developer and publisher of applications on tablets, mobiles and connected objects. In 2012, the company entered the Glass Explorer Program and became one of the first European companies to introduce Google Glass on the market. Their goal is to bring Google Glass into Medical Applications.

Cooperation between the two companies will be an effective progress in the development of simple, mobile and adapted solutions for medical applications. The objective is to link the remote diagnosis solution of Apizee to the connected Google Glass of AMA for medical application such as surgery or telemedicine.

Thanks to that cooperation, Apizee will be able to go further in the development of its remote diagnosis solutions and to answer to a real market need. Currently, Apizee’s solutions are connected to cameras, tablets, smartphones, that is to say to objets people must grab. With Google Glass, the user has now free hands and thus is able to use his hands to complete his assignments and share his experience at the same time. Moreover, by the user side, the solution is easy to use and multipurpose: users are able to communicate, to videoconference, to act, to take pictures remotely, to save files… This solution is a real added value for leading industries and the medical sector.

What can you tell us about Apizee future plans?

The future of Apizee is encouraging: we are only at the beginning of web collaboration revolution.

Indeed, future will be more and more digital, and we are on the road of a more digital customer relationship. Collaboration / interaction between clients and companies will be more web- oriented and telephones will no longer be at the center of CRM. Websites will become the entry point of businesses, allowing visitors to get informed, to be assisted, and to become clients. By the company side, it will be a huge tool to manage its customer relationship.

Moreover, our remote diagnosis solutions can be adapted to all kind of business expertise from the B2C expertise to the B2B expertise and using connected objects such as Google Glasses.

WebRTC drives this digital revolution by allowing Web real-time interactions for data channel, voice and web Visio-conference.

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Announcing WebRTC 2015 Conference & Expo in Paris

SAVE THE DATE – December 16-18, 2015

Plans for WebRTC 2015 to be held in December in Paris are already underway.

As we are summarizing our last event held December 2014 we are seeing WebRTC moving from innovation labs to product and service groups. This is well aligned with the growth of sponsors and attendees we saw at the 2014 event. This trend is expected to continue in 2015.

WebRTC 2015

WebRTC Conference & Expo Paris 2014 in Review

As the first and largest WebRTC event in Europe, around 30 companies sponsored and exhibited last December offering a melt of innovative startups and established actors in this domain.

As reported by Alan Quayle (independant analyst), “Compared to the US events it shows Europe is as, if not more innovative than North America, has a lot less hype, and is definitely more focused on the practical realities of implementation.”…“It was great to see developers sharing their experiences of working at the coalface of WebRTC”

A feeling confirmed by Amir Zmora (Independent Consultant at The New Dial Tone): “As I stated in the conference opening, we are beyond the “looking” phase, 2014 was all about doing. Amir provided his summary of the event in a blog post also discussing results of the audience survey we conducted.

WebRTC 2014 Conference Closing Panel Survey Results

Closing of the event included a panel of experts reviewed the results of a WebRTC survey conducted during the conference.

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Award Winners of the WebRTC 2014 Conference & Expo

The conference this year was lively and full of demos. This includes demos at the exhibition area, a hackathon with finalists demos and 3 demo sessions during the conference itself.

In this post I want to talk about the winners of the conference demos. Altogether we had 4 awards.

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

 

And the winners are

WebRTC 2014 Paris Demo award Winners

MATRIX receives the Innovation award

MATRIX is an open source project that strives to create common grounds for messaging and VoIP, WebRTC among them.

The demo was an on-stage mash-up bringing in an external media source and controlling an crab like robot.

This demo showed the openness of WebRTC and how easy it is to build on it. The hackathon we had on the second day reviewed by Amir Zmora demonstrated this as well.

FIWARE takes Best of Show Award

FIWARE, is an EU foundation that provides open implementations for digital services. The demo by FIWARE included the Kurento Stream Oriented Generic Enabler and the Orion Context Broker. The demo showed a street view in Madrid and how groups of people are identified in real-time and colored accordingly so security services can focus their attention when a sudden crowd is formed.

Vladimir Beloborodov takes Data Channel award

Vladimir who is CTO at MERA came as an independent developer with a demo of an iPhone remote control that controlled another iPhone attached to a toy electric vehicle. The demo use WebRTC data channel for control and video for viewing the remote iPhone camera’s video on the controlling iPhone screen.

Browsetel receives Audience Award

Browsetel demonstrated how WebRTC can make on-line supermarket shopping experience exciting where context was the key feature. They showed how video clips can be presented based on items shopped (for example recipes) and agent consultation in context with users’ activities.

The demo is of a real implementation which made this a practical and real-life demo.

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Things We Talked About at WebRTC 2014

Many things were discussed last week at the WebRTC Conference & Expo. One thing I noticed when doing show of hands was a beginning of expansion of the audience from telecom only to other areas. To my surprise, a non-neglectable number of hands were raised when I asked to know who are not coming from telecom oriented companies but rather from Web companies.

Topics discussed covered a range of areas from general WebRTC standard and technology to Telecom and enterprise specific ones.

TAKE THE CONFERENCE FEEDBACK SURVEY NOW!

I included some of these topics in the audience survey and closing panel. The presentation with the survey results can be fond below. I would like to discuss 2 out of these topics.

 

The panel moderated by myself included: Chad Hart (WebRTC Hacks & Dialogic), Douglas Tait (Oracle), Gilles Duboué (Alcatel-Lucent), Chris Koehncke (&yet), Sebastian Schumann (Slovak Telekom)

Are there still WebRTC roadblocks?

It was interesting to see the audience response compared to the opinion of the panel.

The question was designed to be controversial by intention as I put several of the issues discussed during the conference in one option. The audience played along and almost 80% voted for this option.

The panel on the other hand didn’t fall for this and followed the line of, there will always be issues, this can’t be a reason to hold back. In this case, I agree with the panel. There are always issues; ORTC was one of the topics brought up by many people as a concern. This and the video codec came up in several discussions I had with customers. Having said that, these concerns will be solved as issues will arise, they can’t be an excuse why not to use the technology.

Are there any roadblocks for WebRTC to be ubiquitous

Is WebRTC ready for mobile?

WebRTC for mobile is still a concern of many people. There are several options how to tackle this, options differ based on specific needs and device OS. This is why I decided to give a presentation about this at the conference (details of it will be published on Tuesday on my blog TheNewDialTone).

Most of the audience replied to this question either saying iOS is still an issue or that an SDK is the right option to take.

How do you view the readiness of WebRTC for Android and iOS

I believe it is less important what is the “correct” answer but rather to understand the general perception people have on WebRTC for mobile.

WebRTC support on mobile devices is a topic that needs to be solved in a better way during 2015.

More about the conference can be found in my summary.

Looking forward to hearing your feedback about the conference and what are your expectations for next year.

TAKE THE CONFERENCE FEEDBACK SURVEY NOW!

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What To Expect For at WebRTC 2014 in Paris

ParisWebRTC conference 2014 in Paris is just about to begin, what should you expect to hear and see at the event.

From agenda perspective, we have a good split between technology topics, enterprise, service provider and non-telecom startup presentations.

As part of the conference agenda we will have 3 startup demo sessions. Additionally, the online WebRTC Hackathon wrap-up is co-located with the conference; we will see the presentations of the finalists as part of the WebRTC Paris meetup on Wednesday evening.

More about the conference content

In the training we will cover current state of the WebRTC market with a close look at WebRTC API platforms in a presentation by Tsahi Levent-Levi (which I will present on his behalf as Tsahi is ill and can’t travel). Following this we will have 2 presentations by Dan Burnett and Victor Pascual Avila covering both IETF and W3C WebRTC standards related topics.

The last 2 sessions of the training will give the audience good technical understanding of 2 important topics – ORTC and Data Channel.

The ORTC presentation by Philipp Hancke will provide an overview if what ORTC is and how it comes to play in WebRTC compared to what we have today.

After hearing what Svetlin Mladenov from Vblast has to say about the Data Channel audience will have a good understanding of the technical details of it and what can be done with it beyond telecom.

Following a keynote by Douglas Tait talking about new technology waves, among others, WebRTC and VoLTE; Dean Bubley will give us his view of the market by numbers.

To conclude the conference opening we will hold a panel with analysts and consultants dealing with WebRTC to discuss current status, trends and road ahead.

The rest of the conference will focus on the following topics:

  • WebRTC for service providers talking not only about IMS but also about challenges such as identity management and telecom OTT
  • WebRTC for enterprise covering use cases and how to help IT adopt and develop based on WebRTC
  • Starting with a presentation by Alan Quayle we will review use cases from hackathons and startups
  • As background to the panel about WebRTC infrastructure we will review a few WebRTC server side services
  • Technology challenges and solutions bringing WebRTC to mobile devices and ways to monetize mobile services
  • Before the Paris WebRTC meetup featuring online hackathon demos we will have a WebRTC round table by Stefano Gioia
  • The third day will have a bit more of a technical form with a presentation from W3C followed by innovative use cases by vendors and service providers
  • The last part of the conference will cover different technical topics such as ORTC (in continuation to the training) signaling and congestion control

We will end the conference with a panel discussing results of a server we will conduct during the conference and a great French lunch.

I’ll be at the conference so please come by to say hi.

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WebRTC Conference in Paris: New Sessions and New Exhibitors

WebRTC Conference 2014As last details are being finalized for the conference next week I would like to provide a few updates.

Training and standards update: Training will review latest updates with regards to ORTC and Google and Microsoft respective strategies.

Services and data channel demo contests: Demos of startups will be presented on day 2 and 3 where day 3 demos will be dedicated for Data Channel related services.

Service provider panel: Focusing on European service providers and their approach to WebRTC.

Don’t miss the third edition of the WebRTC Paris conference & expo, next week.

Last agenda updates include

More contributions to the WebRTC for Enterprises session by WebRTC evangelists. Delegates will get inputs on new use cases and will learn how WebRTC will change the way enterprises communicate.

A brainstorming race on a specific use case will be open to all delegates during a round table conducted by Oracle.

Finally, the conference will end with the closing panel: WebRTC Current Status and Predictions for 2015

During the conference the audience will be presented with an on-line survey covering WebRTC industry and technology questions.

In the panel the results of this survey will be presented and discussed by the panelists.

They are jumping on-board

New exhibitors joined the conference, these include Ericsson, FIWARE, Free Solutions and several others soon to be announced.

WebRTC Paris will offer a good observation point of the European WebRTC ecosystem.

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Ever Wondered About WebRTC Interoperability With H.264

HW Codecs on iOS join the game

Different webRTC implementations need to interwork. People will use different devices with different browsers and they expect it to work! There will for example be different implementations of H264 , and naturally users demand the different implementations to interwork.

Ericsson WebRTC H.264 Interop

Ericsson has recently been able to demonstrate successful interop between independent WebRTC implementations that use different  H.264 video codec implementations.. The test was done between a Bowser using the hardware accelerated H.264 (decoder) API exposed by iOS 8 on certain CPU’s, while Firefox used the OpenH264 library provided by Cisco.

Look at this blog from Ericsson Research for more info: http://www.ericsson.com/research-blog/context-aware-communication/openwebrtc-bowser-interop-firefox/

Ericsson will be showcasing OpenWebRTC and Browser at the WebRTC Conference & Expo 2014 in Paris Dec 16-18.

 

 

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StreamRoot, Viblast, Pipe and Mera Showcase Data Channel Solution at WebRTC Paris

WebRTC is mainly viewed as a technology for voice and video. Many think highly of the opportunity the data channel presents but only a few use it for services that are not related with voice and video collaboration.

Given the capability of WebRTC to enable browser-to-browser communication it can be used for peer-assisted content delivery saving content owner bandwidth cost, increasing scalability and service quality.

StreamRoot, Viblast, Pipe and Mera will showcase their recent realizations during a start-up demo session at the WebRTC Paris conference.

Pipes at Pompidou Paris

Let’s look a bit into what these companies and demos comprise.

French start up StreamRoot was founded in 2013 At the edge of HTML5 adaptive streaming technology, StreamRoot created the first MPEG-DASH peer-assisted video player working for both Live and Video on Demand streaming, and have since expanded its expertise to other adaptive streaming formats and platforms.

Bulgarian start-up Viblast has added to its live video streaming platform a support for much requested adaptive bitrate streaming.

This functionality works in two ways:

– Automatic, where the platform offers the highest bitrate (stream quality) possible based on each viewer’s bandwidth (and adjusts it as it fluctuates during playback) and screen size,

– Manual, which allows viewers to select the bitrate themselves through a designated control in the Viblast player.

Pipe, a Berlin based startup brought the latest WebRTC technology to its peer-to-peer 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. No one else can access the file because it’s a transfer directly between two friends: just pick a friend and drop a file into the Pipe. Pipe is among the first to integrate WebRTC within a consumer app.

Mera engineers have done a pilot project leveraging the capabilities of data channel for MSRP-based transfer of text messages and files. With this practical knowledge and results MERA plan commercial outsourced development around WebRTC. Mera is a Russian company.

Visit the conference website for more information about the Data Channel training, lectures and demos.

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The 5 WebRTC Business Benefits for Telcos?

WebRTC is a technology primarily driven by pure Web players so the question of how Telcos can and should take it into account does not have an immediate answer. Telcos themselves are likely going to have different approaches to this question depending on their backgrounds, assets and strategies. The technology is now reaching a development stage where I believe it becomes necessary to share visions on that matter and the upcoming conference is going to be a great opportunity to discuss where could be the value of WebRTC for Telcos.

5 Business Benefits for Telcos from WebRTCTo structure the answer, I would like to distinguish between the following 5 business options:

  • Add Web access to legacy Telco communication services
  • Offer Telephony interfaces to Web service providers
  • Add audio/video communications to Web-based Telco services
  • Innovate in communication services
  • Offer a development & deployment platform to Web service providers

Add Web access to legacy Telco communication services

This is probably the by-default attitude for a Telco and the first option on the list. Some legacy Telco services quite clearly need to be useable from Web browsers because it extends their reach, accessibility and ergonomics. One can think of A/V conferencing, Contact Centres and to some extent Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC). Here, because WebRTC is technologically quite different from Managed VoIP, the interworking costs tend to limit the business cases. From another angle, the penetration of Web technologies has the potential to go beyond simply adding Web gateways to legacy infrastructures. One can think of supporting “Web” codecs and switching technologies in conference bridges or supporting a better web context integration in contact centers and UCC systems. The ecosystem has already very well understood those options and going along this path can be seen from a guy like me (I work in the labs) as business as usual. It’s worth noting that currently the value and economics of adding Web access to legacy Telephony services is still less obvious and need to be compared with a voip-app approach.

Offer Telephony interfaces to Web service providers

This business option has the merit of looking for new revenue streams. However it may be its only merit as strong pure-players (positioned as “service-nodes” and requiring specific phone numbers) already occupy this field and as large Web service providers could decide to connect through the legacy Telephony interfaces. Here, the sweet spot would materialize in the form of APIs for interacting with calls to/from regular phone numbers. Under the hood, what’s needed is quite complex (= likely expensive) and it collides with the ongoing transformation from circuit-switched to all-ip (IMS) technologies while the value of the addressable market seems limited and maybe even shrinking given that a portion of Telephony is likely to move to Apps or toward the Web.

Add audio/video/chat communications to Web-based Telco services

This typically concerns services such as Telco’s own CRM and WebMail. Here the key issue is customer relevance! I believe this does not involve transformation plans (beyond having the driving business units aware of the latest technological developments in the Web and the new opportunities offered): it’s business as usual.

Innovate in communication services

In many ways this approach is similar in intention to the Telco-OTT approach whether it’s done in-house or through partnerships. I would even not distinguish the two except that using Web technologies opens-up some more options (such as shown in Libon) and except that the multitude of companies able to participate to the Darwinian selection of the fittest is just growing bigger with WebRTC lowering even more the barrier to entry.

Offer a Telco platform to Web service providers

This business option recognizes that Web technologies reveal their potential when used in a full-Web context. It also acknowledges that those Web applications will be mainly coming from a variety of players from the Digital economy.

Put this way, it’s not an original approach in the industry: there are already a number of emerging development & deployment WebRTC API platform providers for the real-time web and while at least one well-known Telco did this bet (through an acquisition), one could wonder if this is a relevant market for a Telco or put in another way, how much relevant are the synergies between a platform provider for web communications and a Telco (datacenters; network footprint; enterprise accounts; … compared e.g. to platforms providers leveraging on Amazon Web Services and starting with an empty enterprise account portfolio). While the synergies may indeed be sufficient for some Telcos to take that business option I believe there is some potential for Telcos to find better sweet spots

First of all, the ultimate sweet spot for a Telco datacentre is at the Edge of the network facing end-users. Here there is a need to better understand the business opportunities brought by WebRTC and web real-time communications deployed at the Edge of the network. The field of applications would be significantly different than the usual inter-personal communications and should be searched within extremely latency and QoS demanding applications. For instance, some augmented reality and thing-to-thing use-cases may match these criteria.

Secondly, the Identity management framework used in Web communications has serious drawbacks when it comes to end-user privacy. While the largest identity providers in the web have business models based on tracking user activities for selling targeted ads, network operators have business models that would allow them to offer privacy guarantees to their end-users. Moreover, Telcos are in good position to offer strong authentication (leveraging on the SIM card) when it makes sense.

Finally, even if Internet-based communication may be sufficient for a variety of needs there are some demanding Web applications (typically when the Web communication has some business value) that could benefit from specialized network services. While WebRTC wasn’t designed with that in mind, realistic technical solutions could be designed to answer that.

The upcoming conference presentations will certainly be the opportunity to discuss in more depth some of these options and I expect that feedbacks from the conference participants could provide some useful inputs for next steps.

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