Thursday, June 20, 2013

The key role of IMS - and operators - in the future of WebRTC

We started last week to look at WebRTC and both the benefits and limitations of its lack of a “find and connect” solution. Today, let’s look at how IMS could play a key role in the future of WebRTC.

Telcos already have invested in an excellent “find and connect” layer in the form of IMS,  and implementing a WebRTC signaling layer with IMS would allow the telecom industry to find  a niche in this new ecosystem. Operators basically just need to offer simple API’s for IMS call control that can be used in conjunction with the API’s for WebRTC.

Having this in the context of a telecom grade network, you get all of the other good stuff like interoperability, security and telco-grade reliability. It would also allow telcos to embrace the web developer community and offer them additional value to WebRTC-based applications and services, that is, adding new technology while telecom core values are kept.

Until the arrival of WebRTC, it was very hard for smaller startups or developers to build real-time voice and video calling solutions – it simply required too much investment. WebRTC lowers the barriers to entry, but even with WebRTC, it’s not that simple for a small innovative startup to design ubiquitous service access with interoperability with existing services, and telco levels of quality and reliability. Most have the technical expertise but lack the experience, scale and network assets of established operators.

However if start-ups and developers worldwide could stand on the shoulders of the telecommunication industry – still the biggest giant in communications – they would not have to reinvent the wheel again and again. By cooperating with telcos, they could suddenly enjoy the same opportunity and resources, create more competitive offerings with standardized technology that allows for full interworking, as the likes of iMessage, Google + Hangouts and Skype, etc.

In reality, the telecom industry is in a great position to drive WebRTC-related innovation by offering PSTN termination, quality of service assurances, interoperability between services, and use of server-side infrastructure to mention a few examples.

So, to answer the question we asked the other day, WebRTC does have the potential to level the playing field. Just not all by itself.

By Christer Boberg and Thea Sommerdyk for The Voice on Telecom

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