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WebRTC Survey – Results Are Here

Many views are expressed about WebRTC; What is the killer app? What is it that stops its proliferation? Which should be the mandatory video codec?…

Lately, TheNewDialTone together with Upperside, we came out with a survey to learn more about the WebRTC market status. Now is the time to share the results.

I’ll start off with an apology, the survey was closed last week and this post was going live, then we discovered that someone has played with the results by inserting a large amount of responses in a way that made it clear that these are not authentic responses. Unfortunately Survey Monkey doesn’t have any basic security means like Captcha or identification of strange response behaviors. Maybe it was that Amazon Gift Card that was tempting this person or maybe just a strong desire to play with the survey results. Anyway, all fake results had to be manually removed, something that took a bit of time.

The complete and detailed results can be found in this presentation. In this post I would like to take a closer look at a few of them.

Making it easy to add voice & video communication to applications

If you dumb down WebRTC to the very basic thing that it brings, that is a great media engine. Anyone who had to go through the experience of building a voice & video client or service knows all the headaches it takes, and it is a never-ending story as you need to improve quality continuously. The first question of the survey was looking at what companies have used before WebRTC was available.

WebRTC Survey Results Q1

There were different approaches used to build voice and video communications into an application, self development was less common as it required to license some components, develop others and integrate them into one nicely working client. Hard work.

Putting aside the move to the Web and no download, compiling WebRTC into your application is a savior.

Where will WebRTC have the most significant impact?

The interesting thing is not so much what people voted for but rather what they didn’t vote for and that is service provider. I believe that the webification of communications will impact service providers in 2 ways:

  • It will move communication previously handled by the service provider to other places
  • Those that will jump on the WebRTC wagon will be able to create services and platforms that will enable them to build new asymmetric business models.

WebRTC Survey Results Q3

Microsoft & WebRTC

The survey came out just after Microsoft announced their plans to support WebRTC (ORTC, H.264) so it was interesting to hear people’s thought about this and the video codec.

Since then, Skype for Web was announced and things moved on in the IEFT toward a decision (or a decision not to decide to compromise).

People were really worried about the fragmentation in video codec and preferred both to be supported. Should they still be worried? That really depends on how this decision will be implemented in browsers and mobile devices. My guess, we haven’t seen the end of it yet.

WebRTC Survey Results Q4

WebRTC Survey Results Q5

There are more interesting results so make sure to take a look at this presentation with the complete information.

I do want to touch 2 more questions that will be reviewed by Tsahi and myself in December during the WebRTC conference in Paris.

WebRTC API Platforms

We had a Webinar about this topic and Tsahi will be moderating a panel about the topic during the conference.

The response to the question – In what cases would you choose to use a WebRTC API platform? – was not a big surprise. I was hoping to have more votes for the third option, specific services in the cloud. Now, after Twilio announcing their network traversal service it will be interesting to hear what people have to say about this option on the panel.

WebRTC Survey Results Q7

WebRTC for mobile

In the response to the question about the readiness of WebRTC for mobile devices there was a strong consensus that there is still some way to go until it will be easy to tackle this one, mainly for iOS. During the conference we will review the complexities and give examples of how companies have solved the mobile challenge.

WebRTC Survey Results Q8

For more information about these and other questions take a look at the detailed results presentation.

Last but not least. An email will be sent by Upperside to the 2 winners of the Amazon Gift Card.

Your thoughts about the survey results will be happily received at the comments section below.

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TERENA Goes For WebRTC

TERENA, an organisation representing the European National Research and Education Networks (NREN), has established a WebRTC task Force under the auspices of its Technical Programme in order to provide a forum for exchanging and promoting ideas, experience and knowledge, as well as fostering collaborations.

Research networks chose WebRTC

TERENA LogoTERENA believes that WebRTC creates an opportunity for the European R&E community to solve its real time communication challenges. WebRTC may finally offer a path towards a large-scale, low-cost and easy to use real time communication infrastructure for group conversations across institutional boundaries.

A feature-rich web complemented with real-time communication capability should offer the opportunity for a more component-based approach to including real-time communication in all sorts of e-Learning and e-Research web applications at a low price point and without locking our community to any particular vendor or solution.

On the charter of the TERENA task force

  • To investigate whether and how WebRTC based solutions and services can be used to enable large scale, easy-to-use, easy to integrate and low-cost use of real-time communication across institutional boundaries for all researchers, lecturers, administrative staff and students in European R&E.
  • To ensure the European NRENs are well positioned to realise the full potential of WebRTC technology for their community as the technology emerges in the years to come.
  • To foster the establishment of an NREN knowledge community as a recognised representative for the European R&E in relevant Web-RTC arenas.
  • To build competence, track national developments, collect use cases as well as demonstrate possibilities and identify possible challenges.
  • To imagine future WebRTC-based NREN services and infrastructural components that contribute to a smooth evolution of the real time communication infrastructure.
  • To liaise with the GN4 SA8 WebRTC Task as well as with commercial partners and industry led standardisation activities related to WebRTC by providing an open, public forum for gathering and exchanging wider aspects, knowledge and expertise.

 

The first meeting of the WebRTC Task Force will be held in Paris December 15, 2014 and is coordinated with the WebRTC Paris Conference & Expo.

Terena’s representatives will be present at the conference and will be happy to meet attending companies.

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WebRTC Status Check

Things are moving fast with WebRTC. As we are getting ready for our yearly WebRTC Conference in Paris we are speaking to service providers and vendors dealing with WebRTC. Many have shown interest to know the industry’s perspective on a few important topics such as the Microsoft announcement about their plans to support WebRTC with ORTC H.264.

We collected a few questions about things we discussed with participating companies and speakers as well as a few poll questions from our latest Webinars and put together a survey.

Survey

All together there are 9 questions covering the following topics:

  • Status of WebRTC in the market and in vendors’ and service providers’ perspective
  • Where will WebRTC have most impact
  • WebRTC on mobile devices
  • Microsoft’s announcement

You can also choose to answer the last 10th item and enter your email. This will get you into the drawing of a 50$ AMAZON GIFT CARD (there are 2 of these).

So head over here to take this survey.

Results will be published on this blog.

Survey Link

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New Sponsors Are Jumping On-Board For The WebRTC 2014 Conference

Third edition of the WebRTC Conference & Expo Paris : Four new sponsors

Genband, Metaswitch, NG Media and Apidaze announce their participation to the WebRTC Conference Expo, which will take place in Paris from 16th to 18th of December 2014.

Other major WebRTC players will also soon confirm their participation. Within just two years, this conference has become the most significant one in Europe. The 2014 edition will gather together more then 40

exhibitors. Interest in WebRTC has created a rich and vibrant ecosystem of vendors. Traditional equipment vendors have also invested in this segment while the operators are forced to offer their own solutions.

WebRTC Conference 2014

The 2014 Agenda: new usages, customer profiles

The conference programme will highlight new usages of WebRTC: data channel video streaming, WebRTC & TV services, M2M applications.

Other important sessions will cover first customers profile, service providers strategies and technological issues with ORTC and WebRTC 2.0.

For more information visit our Website or Contact Us.

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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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WebRTC Voice Applications

WebRTC is commonly used for voice applications but video takes the highlights

Relatively speaking, WebRTC video communications is massively overstated in importance. That may sound like heresy, coming from a WebRTC analyst, but it’s also true. Now that doesn’t mean that video is unimportant, nor that it isn’t going to grow hugely in scope, but it’s certainly not the only game in town. And it highlights the surprising lack of voice-only use-cases for WebRTC so far.

Tin-Can-WebRTC-Voice

This reflects a common fallacy in the telecoms industry that so-called “richer” or “multimedia” forms of communication are inherently better, when in fact, they’re just better-suited to certain use-cases or contexts.

Indeed, one only has to look at the huge proliferation of messaging-type applications in recent years, from SMS to web chat to Twitter to email to the various mobile IM models, to realise that often “less is more” in communications. (The obvious counterpoint is RCS/joyn, which amply illustrates that being “rich” doesn’t make you popular).

Given a broad choice of options, consumers tend to pick whatever seems to be the “right tool for the job”. Even when offered a “multimedia chainsaw”, there are still plenty of occasions when a good old-fashioned textual screwdriver or audio spanner is more appropriate. Globally, around 4-5 billion people use voice and text communications regularly. For video, it’s probably more like 100-200m – and for multi-party video, only a small fraction of that.

Too many commentators lazily refer to WebRTC as “Skype in the browser”, invoking an image of video chat or conferencing as the default mode. Few people use terms like “VoIP in the browser” or “Viber in the browser”. Yet ironically, it’s the audio codecs which are agreed, while video is still subject to debate.

Now to be fair, there are various WebRTC audio conferencing products out, while Vonage launched one of the very first mobile WebRTC apps last year. A number of internal contact-centre solutions use a browser dashboard instead of a traditional telephony platform. Twilio, Plivo and Tropo have voice-centric cloud platforms, while a couple of Telco-OTT propositions evolve the normal telephony model to WebRTC. There’s even one or two music-jamming applications around.

But these are exceptions. Most prototypes, demos and commercial WebRTC platforms are video-centric. There are dozens of lookalike video chat services, or video contact-centre concepts. There are innumerable presentations and white papers extolling a new age of video interviews, video telemedicine, video dating and connected video-capable “things”.

Yet almost no thought, design or marketing goes into new ways to extend human speech – or other forms of audio – view WebRTC. It all eyes, but no ears. It’s as if 120 years of “phone calls” has blinded (deafened?) us to the viability of other formats for voice.

Now, it could just be that video is just “shiny” and demo-friendly in a way that audio generally isn’t. It also attracts vendors selling bigger and costlier network boxes too, as mixing and transcoding aren’t as commoditised or easily-addressed by open-source. It could also be down to psychological or design-related reasons – talking to a browser seems a bit weird for some reason, compared to talking to a standalone app.

But the fact is that the bulk of today’s realtime communications is voice-centric, often for good practical reasons. A lot of people cannot or will not use video for many cases – it may be dangerous (eg while driving/walking), distracting, invasive or uncomfortable. In a multi-tasking world, looking at a camera often involves too much cognitive load (especially as you watch your own image), and may inhibit concurrent tasks such as note-taking, or reading presentation slides.

WebRTC-powered video will absolutely have many uses cases, but it equally can never be ubiquitous or the default mode for all instances of communications.

So it seems strange that so few WebRTC applications and services have been targeted at audio-only, or even audio-primary usage. There seems to be a significant gap for companies (or open-source) solutions to enable more pure-audio WebRTC than is currently seen. In particular, the assumption that anything based around speech is necessarily a “call” and could/should be interoperable with the phone system is wrong.

Yet even within the traditional telecoms industry, we’ve long had other formats for voice communications – walkie-talkies, private radio, push-to-talk, voice messaging, hoot-n-holler and so forth. Add in cloud capabilities like speech recognition, storage, translation, audio-processing of various types and we should have a wide range of WebRTC possibilities. Where’s the “Voice Instagram” that allows people to converse in Glaswegian accents or Donald Duck squawks? Where are the realtime profanity bleep-outs, or inline stress-analysis lie detectors?

And going beyond the actual transmission of spoken words, there’s another world of intent and purpose. Why exactly are people talking, and what are they actually hoping to achieve? How can the web – and the network – enhance that? The contextual capabilities of browsers and devices should be able to add to the experience of audio communications – recognising when to capture and emphasise the sounds of crashing waves on beach during a call. Or when to block out the sound of a crashing bore in the background at a party.

WebRTC video offers huge opportunities. But at the same time, we should remember that voice communications has delivered trillions of dollars in revenue in the past, and could continue to do so. Let’s ensure that the Future of Voice is as vibrantly-coloured as the Future of Video.

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What is WebRTC for Telcos?

Did the Telco bell ring?

Did-The-Telco-Bell-RingI often read statements from the “Internet advocates” or from vendors around Telco’s and their views/mistakes in relation to WebRTC, but barely any share experience from within.

I would like to share my thoughts on how the “democratization of voice” is seen by those who (still) earn a large portion of their annual revenues from it. What does it mean when various departments within an operator “want WebRTC” all of a sudden – what is “WebRTC for Telcos” – because sometimes, it is quite far from the obvious.

To follow up my last blog, let me share some first-hand thoughts how I perceive this (of course not only from within the company I work for, but also when I exchange thoughts with peers from various other operators). Some point out the believe the dial tone is still considered more important than actual web development or highlight that to some extent operators are bad for WebRTC. Parts of these arguments are often true. I asked myself: Why do operators most of the time start with telephony or consider IMS first when thinking about WebRTC?

Natural evolution vs the need for radical change

Well, why actually would they not start with it – that is after all the area they know and earn money from? Is it not natural that classical Telco people working day in/day out with SIP and deploying their brand new IMS consider using it for WebRTC as well (especially since IMS is mostly built for telephony)? I fully agree that we need a dramatic shift, but I wonder if anyone thought about how this can happen if not step by step, and how education inside the old structures can be done best in order to do so.

Change will not happen radically for everything, for everyone, for all our services, for our thinking, our culture – not just yet anyways. By doing a radical change in offering communications services, we can of course bet on the future already now, but which manager would risk revenues for the next years just to be the forerunner? Not to mention whether the people are ready (both from their knowledge and expectation perspective) to drive this change. I think it won’t happen overnight, it most likely cannot happen overnight, but that does not mean it is not happening at all.

Taking this into account: What is more natural than evolving your existing services and trying out new things when possible? An internal trial here and there perhaps, some laboratory deployments showcasing some of the functions the fancy new boxes have, but that are not used yet, or a student working on an innovative topic. As outlined by me before, it is easier than ever to try things out. Unfortunately that seems to happen mostly in the labs in a creative way and does not yet impact the thinking of the main organization unit dealing with (tele-) communication at the moment. This has to change!

How does the average Telco learn about WebRTC

Coming back to examining why it is that Telco’s seem to start always with classic click-to-dial use cases and are so keen on getting their IMS hooked up with WebRTC I asked myself: How did WebRTC actually “infiltrate” the average operator fellow’s mind set (of those looking at it at the moment – it is still far from being the majority within an operator) in the first place? Web 2.0 has not done that, neither have apps or Flash, or a move to IP in the core with NGN a while ago. What happened – why now?

At the moment I would say this has happened mostly through vendors. Our current technology vendors (mostly traditional ones that also provided technology decades back) come, present roadmaps, evolution of our currently running services, and also new boxes or features. These presentations are either given to technology and marketing together or separately. I can bet that certainly every single presentation of this kind contains WebRTC.

Here lies also one of the reasons for the Telco’s perception that IMS & WebRTC is closely related: Their first contact point is not Google, the larger Internet vision, or an excitement/drive for new things. They touch base with WebRTC mostly exclusively in relation to IMS and traditional services or the “classical” well-known suspects of “new” IMS services through their known partners.

It is not ignorance of alternatives to IMS or insistence towards SIP as signaling protocol, it is simply because many do not even know there is a need to think for alternatives. For the more conservative parts, using open-source software such as OpenSIPS/Kamilio for SIP in their core or thinking about IMS alternatives is already considered extravagant, and now those folks should question current approaches as a whole, even for their main services and change overnight? This is highly unlikely if you ask me.

Those who did not understand the transition yet and still believe in core legacy principles will most likely not change their view just because of WebRTC.

Operator services have not changed tremendously when the iPhone and apps came along.
Why should it happen now – just because of WebRTC?

Let’s assume people in charge of technology or products heard about WebRTC as described, think (in the context they have learned about it) about new possibilities, and come to ask one day to “add WebRTC to something”.

Now what does that mean?

  • They think about a service that should be accessible in browsers, e.g., an existing service such as “classic telephony”. Usually this means the request does not come along with any further requests. People don’t even think about “more” – new possibilities
  • They like the idea of adding voice or video to some website where this does currently not exist as a feature, but do not yet think about the potential that actually brings along
  • People operating new telephony platforms that evolved to IP will naturally hear about WebRTC, and since it is all IP the assumption of “just adding another end point” is rather obvious. Now they want also “the fixed line accessible with WebRTC”
  • Try out new “WebRTC capabilities” that have been part of a delivery (e.g. an SBC, media server, RCS platform) and simply explore what is now possible “on the web”

I have yet to meet somebody from an operator that till now requests any of the “real” WebRTC differentiators, such as contextual awareness, anonymity, or better codecs, and knows about that being worked on actively outside of some lab.

Chances: Enhance the existing & explore the new

So where do I see chances in the mid-term?

I tried to highlight that already in an earlier post: The Internet world will certainly teach us how to embed communications into the web and will do a much better job than us – despite our history with implementing real-time communication.

It is very crucial not to forget the value that can be delivered by evolving traditional services. New enhanced services are the ones mostly expected from an operator (by that I mean the evolution of services we currently offer) and also the ones where we can calm down controlling by keeping to some extend traditional less-risky operator business models. Maybe not per-minute pricing for the average consumer (but hey, they have flat rates anyways and just need to be properly identified), but for example “call center minutes” towards businesses can easily be charged even if the request is coming from a browser – at least for some time. And if existing traditional services are enhanced, maybe the current subscription will also not be cancelled just yet, even though alternatives arise. I do not suggest to keep this as long term strategy or that no change is needed; rather the opposite: Change is overdue, we’ve missed out before, let’s use our chances now and start with the easiest use cases immediately (it should be easy thanks to “All-IP” one might think).

Looking at embedding communications is also something I would try as an operator, but finding their real potential that will result in commitments of investing into it will take time I believe. I urge absolutely everyone to try gathering experiences in this area, but not to have too high expectations in the beginning. The cheering about the future value is unfortunately something that needs proven figures and an adaptation in the ”Telco mindset” to be fully understood. Motivations here are often cost savings or the simple unavailability of any budget for a new product idea (“Hey, we want video communication but have no budget – maybe we can use WebRTC”) rather than completely and thoroughly evaluated use cases. To follow up the call center use case – clearly the context can be exploited here and value can be added, but less with “pure end to end WebRTC” in the short term.

What is worth to mention is that I restricted some of my operator arguments by adding the apodosis “… unless it happens in their labs”. I believe that while WebRTC has its place in the labs, the new way of thinking has to make its way very, very quickly into the normal business units. I believe it is very important to gather experiences, not only for the development of so called new businesses, but even more importantly to reshape the existing business and adapt the new technology, new mindset step by step in as many areas as possible. This does in fact not even have to mean “do WebRTC” as understood by Google or anyone in the community. It simply means re-think current strategies how to best evolve legacy services and align with the new technologies and potentials that are available. We missed out on apps – let’s not miss out again!

Outlook and Conclusion

What are my expectations from the upcoming conference?

  • Share as many experiences from within as I can. Hopefully by then I can talk about some of our work as well.
  • See how other operators approach it. Learn about their experiences, less from technical perspective than from cultural, integration, coexistence of the old and new
  • Provide a balance between traditionalists/conservatives and the forerunners for whom change cannot come fast enough. I know where many concerns come from and am trying day in, day out to understand them and try to address them and clear them in a sensible way, and move forward – one step at a time J

Black-and-WhiteI summarized many points in this initial post that are worth a follow up, and I will try to highlight where I see the potential first and also tangle why some things just are not moving as fast as one would expect. My presentation will also highlight lessons learned so far (what is harder, what is easier) and look at where WebRTC – or rather the evolution of new paradigms that come along with it – can realistically be seen “at the average Telco” in the short term.

Remember: I believe the story is not black or white. For any shade of gray you want to draw, however, you need to understand and have both colors to do so and achieve the expected outcome.

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Five Points to Consider for Real WebRTC Deployments

There are nowadays lots of ongoing proof of concepts and field trials involving WebRTC, having some of them reached the production stage. In this post we are going to explore which problems arise when you move from the lab to a production environment. These are five points to take into account when you are working with real field deployments of WebRTC.

Hide complexity of the user device

WebRTC is designed to run in any type of device and platform with the sole requirement to use a browser that supports it. Unfortunately, and even though they are implementing the standard specification, different platforms and browsers present unique peculiarities that require some degree of customization by the applications running on top.

In addition, recent movements from Microsoft indicate that they will support ORTC instead. This forces web communication applications to have their own version for Internet Explorer. Despite this, it’s possible to use elements to hide this particular implementation via a middleware that make applications work on any device and browser with no changes in the code.

WebRTC Orchestration-Quobis

Hide complexity of vendors

WebRTC does not mandate anything for signaling and it’s up to the application developer to select or even define the appropriate signaling mechanism for each environment and use case. This has been discussed in details in a Webinar focusing on WebRTC Standards. Gateway vendors have chosen different ways to manage signaling from standard based solutions, that are being adopted by some vendors and the open source community, to proprietary solutions based on SDK or proprietary APIs.

To deal with this fragmentation the industry is working on abstraction libraries like ORCAjs.

Manage the integration with existing services

It is easy to Implement WebRTC services, as you can see from demos that are available on the Internet. The big problem is when you want to create a WebRTC based service that is fully interconnected with your existing platforms, especially when you need to deal with authentication, authorization or accounting.

There are different possibilities out there to authenticate users, from anonymous calls where authentication is not needed (for instance, in some click-to-call solutions where only DoS protections or temporal accounts are dynamically provided), to the use of strong telco (or enterprise) authentication mechanisms (like AD, HSS or others)

Authorization or the management of user privileges and billing are other points to take into account. Service providers need to federate with their operation systems and policy managers, so the new WebRTC architecture will need some connectors to OSS, BSS and other existing elements.

Manage multi-tenancy services

Services providers and telcos are willing to offer new services to corporate customers that help to retain the revenues from this market. In this scenario it’s critical to have the possibility to offer services that are able to work in a multi-tenancy way. This means being able to run different instances of the solution to allow all the administrators of each company to manage different features like users, privileges and services.

Prevent security concerns

Some new potential threads appear with the use of WebRTC and part of the traditional VoIP attacks will be inherited.

Ad-hoc attacks in WebRTC include access to physical devices. It is easy to figure out how risky it would be to allow any web application to access users’ webcam or screen without asking permission of the user.  Other attacks on WebRTC include cross-domain and DoS. This means that you can connect to a server whose domain is different from the domain you downloaded the code from. This gives the necessary flexibility to make this web communications useful, but it also could allow some kind of distributed Denial of Service attack, that should be prevented.

A tool is needed to provide security mechanisms that prevent attacks and fraud in WebRTC sessions.

In summary

These are some of the points that are not part of the current feature lists of WebRTC gateway vendors, that should be looked at when planning real field deployments. Different user devices, signaling protocols, gateway vendors, user topologies or user privileges may represent a huge complexity in the delivery of WebRTC services and a potential threat in terms of security.

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Another View on WebRTC Data Channel – Interview with StreamRoot

Nikolay RodionovContinuing the WebRTC Data Channel series of interviews I took the opportunity to get Nikolay Robionov’s, Co-Founder of StreamRoot, point of view.

Can you tell us what your company is all about and what makes it stick out of the crowd of WebRTC start-ups?

Nikolay Rodionov:

StreamRoot is a peer-to-peer video delivery solution that helps online broadcasters to cut their bandwidth costs by up to 90%, while improving the quality of streaming. Our solution also solves the scaling issues most of the big streaming platforms still struggle with, as its efficiency increases with the number of simultaneous users.

Unlike other WebRTC DataChannel startups, our company is focused on video streaming, because video is very data consuming (it will represent 70% of total web traffic in 2017!), and because video providers have very specific needs. We work together with our clients to give them a solution that integrates almost instantly in their workflow, and provides a completely seamless experience for the end-user.

We are always on the edge of the technology, and succeeded to have the first commercial P2P player for Live Streaming on the market, and the support of adaptive bitrate technologies as MPEG-DASH. We want to become the reference in P2P video streaming by leveraging WebRTC, and we already are acknowledged as such by the the biggest players in the industry.

StreamRoot-Solution-Diagram

The data channel is one of the more interesting capabilities of WebRTC with boundless innovation opportunities. How are you innovating with it?

Nikolay Rodionov:

We saw data channels as a huge opportunity to deeply transform how the web is working today. Datachannels enables to create client-to-client transfers of any type of data without anything to install on top of the browsers, so we decided to use it to create a distributed video delivery solution. Data channels enable us to not struggle too much with the very low-level transfer issues, so we can concentrate on build a complex peer-to-peer protocol optimized for video streaming.

While there are many start-ups dealing with WebRTC not many of them are looking at the data channel. Do you think there is any special reason for that?

Nikolay Rodionov:

WebRTC was created by people and companies coming from the Telcos, so their number one focus was the Visio-conference usecase. They see WebRTC as an evolution of their existing protocols and softwares ported into the browsers, so they are not very interested in Datachannels. But WebRTC Datachannels has given developers a completely new possibilities to interact on the web, and we think the biggest innovations will come from this area as WebRTC will become more mainstream.

Lately there has been a lot of buzz around net neutrality and the FCC actions in this regards. In addition to that there are announcements about Netflix relationship with Comcast and Verizon, while on the other hand there are rumors about Netflix looking at P2P technology to save on bandwidth and cost. Can your company provide remedy to this issue and does Net Neutrality impact your solution?

Nikolay Rodionov:

Yes StreamRoot is a very good solution for this problem, as our system is relieving the congestions in the interconnection points between big video plaforms and ISPs. The end-users doesn’t need to fetch the data from the Netflix servers anymore, but can get it from the nearest peer, who can be his neighbor. And our solution benefits not only the video platform, but also the ISPs, because we optimize our peer network so the data travels less and stays in the same ISP network if possible.

If the FCC new propositions pass, bandwidth will become even more expensive, and the demand for a solution like ours will grow even more. I don’t think ISPs will be able to block all the WebRTC communications, so they will not be able to block peer-to-peer delivery, and that could be the solution for a lot of video websites who wouldn’t have the money to pay millions for a fast lane.

Are there any customers already using it? Can you name a few?

Nikolay Rodionov:

We did some great publicly demonstrated pilots with France Televisions in December and Level3 at the NAB show last month. We have several pilots running with big Live Streaming providers (main French TV Channels, as well as OTT services like PlayTV), and are in a pre-production phase with some large VOD platforms.

What’s next for your company?

Nikolay Rodionov:

Our next biggest focus is to expand internationally, and get even more clients and use cases to prove to the broadcasting world that this technology is ready for production.

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Exploiting WebRTC Data Channel Potential: Interview with Viblast

Petar BojkovFollowing my previous post about companies using the WebRTC data channel I started doing some in-depth interviews with a few of them. This is the first interview done with Petar Bojkov, COO of Viblast.

Can you tell us what your company is all about and what makes it stick out of the crowd of WebRTC start-ups?

Petar Bojkov:

Viblast is providing scalable video streaming solutions. Our software platform addresses the unique challenges of broadcasters and over-the-top (OTT) video content providers to reliably deliver high quality video to an ever-growing number of broadband viewers worldwide. Viblast’s groundbreaking functionality relies on the principle of a peer-assisted Content Delivery Network (CDN), where content is delivered to end-viewers using a traditional CDN model improved by the addition of a peer-to-peer (P2P) layer between users.

Our solution uses WebRTC’s data channel to exchange video/audio data chunks between users. While the prevalent uses of WebRTC we’ve seen so far have been centered around making video calls, Viblast tackles a larger scale problem which is poised to grow in parallel with the exponential demand for video streaming.

Viblast-Solutionn-Diagram

The data channel is one of the more interesting capabilities of WebRTC with boundless innovation opportunities. How are you innovating with it?

Petar Bojkov:

Theoretically, the data channel has unlimited potential. However, current implementations usually assume that the data channel will be used for small amounts of data. As Viblast is one of the few companies using the data channel to transfer more than simple text messages between users, we were one of the first developers that tried to pass big chunks of data between peers.

Of course, being off the beaten track is very interesting and challenging. We had to solve some unique challenges, the answers to which cannot be found with a simple web search. We also had to implement various workarounds such as limiting the amount of data we are sending in one message.

While there are many start-ups dealing with WebRTC not many of them are looking at the data channel. Do you think there is any special reason for that?

Petar Bojkov:

The core idea behind WebRTC is to provide a real time communications stack for the web and as such, most startups tend to focus on this space, building one video calling app after another. 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.

An example would be Viblast as a peer augmented CDN using the data channel for peers to communicate, another interesting use is direct file sharing between browsers and yet another one would be a distributed web without servers. The list goes on and I expect that once the initial hype with video calling starts to fade, we will see more and more of these use cases taking advantage of WebRTC’s data channel.

Lately there has been a lot of buzz around net neutrality and the FCC actions in this regards. In addition to that there are announcements about Netflix relationship with Comcast and Verizon, while on the other hand there are rumors about Netflix looking at P2P technology to save on bandwidth and cost. Can your company provide remedy to this issue and does Net Neutrality impact your solution?

Petar Bojkov:

The recent Netflix – Comcast deal and the surrounding net neutrality debate is an interesting issue when considered in the context of Viblast as Viblast’s technology has a potential impact on both. As it currently stands, Netflix streams directly to their subscribers, each subscriber consuming gigabytes upon gigabytes of data, which are delivered by Netflix’s own infrastructure and Amazon Web Services. With the planned move to Ultra HD (4K), these numbers are set to grow in the coming years. Streaming to millions of users is an expensive proposition and the recent Netflix – Comcast peering agreement only compounds the total cost for Netflix.

Are there any customers already using it? Can you name a few?

Petar Bojkov:

Although a young company offering an innovative and yet market unproven solution, interest for our product has been strong and the company is making strides. Viblast is running pilots for a few TV stations, including a national TV channel and a couple of OTT video providers.

What’s next for your company?

Petar Bojkov:

Obtaining a patent for our technology, opening an office in North America and aggressively expanding our customer base once Viblast’s technology becomes more mainstream.

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